Zlatan Ibrahimovic has suggested that his retirement from international football has led to less pressure on Sweden.
After a 15-year career which included 62 goals in 116 national-team appearances, Ibrahimovic retired from duty with Sweden after playing at Euro 2016.
Sweden must face Italy in a two-legged playoff to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but Ibrahimovic has insisted that Blagult are now considered as underdogs against many of the top nations in world football.
The 36-year-old is quoted by Sky Sport Italia as saying: "Sweden are playing without pressure, because since I left, nobody expects much of them now, from the media to the fans. When I play, the level is raised, so it is lowered in my absence.
"Having said that, this squad remains a good collective, just with less responsibility on their shoulders. The players are not very experienced, but the project is ambitious."
Manchester United forward Ibrahimovic is expected to return to the club scene in December after being sidelined with a knee injury since April.