A 0-0 draw at the San Siro for the Swedes saw them to a 1-0 aggregate win over the Azzurri, with the team turning in a heroic defensive performance in both matches. Afterwards, the manager was asked about Ibrahimovic and was not pleased.
"This is incredible! This player [Ibrahimovic] has just stopped to play with Sweden one year-and-a-half ago and we are still here talking about him," Andersson said, per Sacha Pisani of Goal. "Gosh, we need to talk about the great players we have in this team I believe."
Andersson added that Ibrahimovic is "a great champion, but we had to adapt and found another style."
The Manchester United striker posted the following on Twitter after his country's display against Italy:
Zlatan Ibrahimović @Ibra_official
We are Zweden https://t.co/rDXzRImev42017-11-13 22:37:03
Ibrahimovic left international football in 2016 after the UEFA European Championship. He's the nation's all-time top scorer with 62 goals in 116 caps.
With Sweden at the World Cup and the 36-year-old nearing the end of his career, the temptation would be there for Ibrahimovic to come out of retirement.
B/R Football @brfootball
Zlatan watching Sweden qualify for the World Cup like... https://t.co/RdJCKsUY6s2017-11-13 21:52:51
Still, it appears as though Andersson has discarded any talk of that happening. That's understandable given they have qualified for the tournament without him.
Not only were they colossal in their defensive play against Italy, they have shown attacking flair during their qualification run, with the 2-1 win over France a particular highlight. They also finished ahead of the Netherlands in Group A and in Emil Forsberg have one of the most exciting playmakers in European football.
Journalist Kristan Heneage noted that Sweden look liberated without Ibrahimovic in the team:
Kristan Heneage @KHeneage
Whisper it, but perhaps playing without Zlatan has made Sweden a better side? There's a lack of expectation/pressure and more of a team dynamic present now.2017-11-13 21:45:09
The frustration from Andersson is understandable, though the side's former forward is such a huge character—especially in Italy, where he played for AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus—that he will always command some attention from the press.
For the time being Ibrahimovic must focus on his own recovery from the injury that's kept him sidelined since April.
The Red Devils striker excelled for Manchester United in his first season with the club and will be hopeful of making a big impact in Jose Mourinho's side when he recovers full fitness. Should he light up the Premier League in 2018, Ibrahimovic and Andersson may have some difficult decisions to make.