Sweden are not one of the big footballing nations. They failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups despite having one of the best players in the world as part of their squad. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the main man for Sweden for the past decade but when he announced his retirement (the first time) in 2016 no one would have been surprised if the national side faded away and began to struggle further. However, over the last two years they've gone onto better things.
When Zlatan was in the Swedish national team, it was referred to as "Zlatan's Sweden." The game plan was clear with Zlatan in the squad. The manager would set up to get the best out of the big striker and at times compromise other players. However, it seemed to work, he scored 62 goals in 116 games and posed a big threat. His goal scoring recorded did not translate when in major tournaments, failing to score in any.
Without Zlatan in the side they've adopted a new style of play, a style that suits the squad they've got a not just the one standout individual. The manager, Janne Andersson deserves a lot of create for what he's done with this side. Swedish morale is at an all time high and the players are playing for each other. Each player knows the system well and knows each others job. They're a very organised squad that is capable of getting a goal on the break, as we've seen already this tournament.
Just to get to the World Cup was a big achievement for this small country. They were drawn in a qualification group with France and the Netherlands. Sweden finished second and went on to play another powerhouse nation in the playoffs, Italy. Their organisation was shown once again, beating Italy 1-0 over two legs and getting their ticket to the finals. At this point the Swedish fans began to believe and realised they could do something special.
Similarly to England Sweden came to the tournament with minimal expectation but getting on the "easy" side of the draw they'll be confident they can go far. With each game they go through the more the momentum builds.
Sweden are the perfect example that it takes a "team" to win and not just an individual. Two years absent from the squad Zlatan started to hint that he might make himself available to go to Russia. This was meet by players and staff in agreement that he would dismantle the team spirit and their game plan would have to change dramatically. It was later discovered that Zlatan teased this news for his own personal gain and to add to his ego some more. The days of Sweden and Zlatan are over and they've seemed to benefit from it. However, Zlatan inspired the nation during his career and likely inspired some of the players to play football in the first place.