“It was rather easy to name 15-16 players. Then it’s always very equal,” said Lagerbäck, speaking at Millesgården in Stockholm.
Fredrikstad goalkeeper Rami Shaaban and Bayer Leverkusen defender Fredrik Stenman are in the national squad for the first time, while another surprise was the 22 year old centre back, Karl Svensson.
Svensson, who plays for IFK Göteborg, has only appeared once for Sweden at the senior level. Nevertheless, he flew to Stockholm to be at the press conference.
“I am very surprised. It’s every football player’s dream to play in the world cup. If someone had told me six months ago that I would be involved I would have laughed at them,” he said.
Svensson is the youngest defender in the squad and only made his debut last year. But Lagerbäck said he sees in Svensson a future stalwart in the team:
“He has established himself in the Under-21 team. Now he’s mature enough to step up.”
The Swedish manager admitted that the midfield and attack for the tournament in Germany practically picked itself.
“This time we’ve spent most time thinking about the goalkeepers and the back line,” he said.
The inclusion of Rami Shaaban as the third choice keeper surprised commentators, who noted that despite a spell with Arsenal in England, he has no experience at junior or senior level in the national team.
“Rami has shown that he can perform in both the Premier League and the Champions League. That’s perhaps the hardest there is after the national team. He’s had problems since a broken leg but has made a good comeback in Norway,” said Lagerbäck.
Defender Fredrik Stenman has more experience at international level than Shaaban and Svensson – but only marginally. He was in a Swedish squad which toured Hong Kong in 2004, but only played a friendly match against a team selected from the local league.
“Fredrik has established himself in Germany very well. He is a spirited full back who likes to get forward, which is exactly what we need,” commented Lagerbäck.
Two players who were part of the Swedish set-up throughout the qualifying campaign, Alexander Östlund and Eddie Gustafsson, will be watching their team mates on television this summer.
“It feels harsh, extra harsh considering that it’s two who have been involved throughout the journey. But we think we have better options here. Eddie hasn’t played a competitive match for a long while, even if we think he’s a really good goalkeeper.”
Lagerbäck said that Mikael Nilsson and Niclas Alexandersson are better alternatives to Östlund.
“Partly because of how we play, partly because of our opposition,” he explained.
The full squad
Andreas Isaksson, Rennes
John Alvbåge, Viborg
Rami Shaaban, Fredrikstad
Erik Edman, Rennes
Petter Hansson, Heerenveen
Teddy Lucic, Häcken
Olof Mellberg, Aston Villa
Mikael Nilsson, Panathinaikos
Fredrik Stenman, Bayer Leverkusen
Karl Svensson, IFK Göteborg
Niclas Alexandersson, IFK Göteborg
Marcus Allbäck, Köpenhamn
Daniel Andersson, Malmö FF
Johan Elmander, Bröndby
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juventus
Mattias Jonsson, Djurgården
Kim Källström, Rennes
Henrik Larsson, Barcelona
Tobias Linderoth, Köpenhamn
Fredrik Ljungberg, Arsenal
Markus Rosenberg, Ajax
Anders Svensson, Elfsborg
Christian Wilhelmsson, Anderlecht
Reserve squad members
Bengt Andersson, IFK Göteborg
Christoffer Andersson, Lilleström
Kennedy Bakircioglü, Twente
Fredrik Berglund, Esbjerg
Mikael Dorsin, Rosenborg
Tobias Hysén, Djurgården
Daniel Majstorovic, Basel
Max von Schlebrügge, Hammarby
Alexander Östlund, Southampton