Philadelphia, PA – Sweden faces Euro 2012 with conflicting attitudes.
Drawn into Group D along with England, France and co-host Ukraine, the Swedes have a tricky path to qualify for the knockout round. On paper, England and France would likely be favorites to advance.
But according to coach Erik Hamren, the Scandinavian country has their sights set on making a deep run in the tournament.
"It will be an exciting challenge," Hamren said. "It is a tough and uncertain group. We could play three really good matches and still not progress.
"Our first ambition is to qualify for a quarterfinal. But if we do, we will not start celebrating. We dream of medals."
Hamren was forced to leave Manchester City's highly-touted striker John Guidetti off the roster. The 20-year-old, who enjoyed a sensational season on loan at Feyenoord last term, has an inflamed nerve in his thigh muscle.
Sweden still has plenty of options in attack, though. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of world football's premier strikers, and he should get favorable service playing in front of Kim Kallstrom, Sebastian Larsson and Christian Wilhemsson.
Johan Elmander is likely to be Sweden's second-best attacking option despite a race against time to recover from a foot injury. The burly striker fractured a bone in his foot in Galatasaray's final match of the season, but he is expected to speed up his rehabilitation plan in a bid to feature in Sweden's opening match against Ukraine.
"They said I would need eight to ten weeks," Elmander said. "I'm not great at math, but I knew that would mean I wouldn't make it back in time."
The match schedule figures to play in Sweden's favor.
By facing Ukraine right off the bat and conceivably taking three points, the Swedes would need just a point against an English side in turmoil to sit firmly in the driver's seat before the final group match.
Group D is essentially a three-horse race between Sweden, France and England, and any two-team combination of the three could realistically advance to the quarterfinals. Hamren himself admitted that Sweden may not advance even if the team performs well. But with so many questions hovering over England, Sweden could be poised for a spot in the knockout round. Advancing any further depends on the which team it draws.