Few teams can point to the same consistency in major tournaments as Sweden. Usually present but never victorious, the occasional podium-finishers have become masters of the steady if unspectacular campaign. They are, in short, supremely comfortable on the international stage – and perhaps, it could be argued, a little too comfortable.

"Not at all," insisted Adam Johansson, shooting that theory down for FIFA.com. Despite being 29, the Seattle Sounders defender is still a relatively new face in the side but, recalled by Erik Hamren after sitting out UEFA EURO 2012, he knows whereof he speaks.

"Our stability isn't a negative factor, quite the contrary," he went on. "It's true that sometimes, when a coach stays for too long, the team can start to take things for granted, but for us that's only positive. Everyone knows his role, the instructions don't change and the players all know what to expect. There are no surprises."

The Blågult have certainly made a solid start in their quest to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, seeing off Kazakhstan 2-0 in their Group C opener as Hamren looks to continue his good work. He took over from Lars Lagerback three years ago and, despite the failure to reach South Africa 2010, he appears to have put Sweden back on track, steering his charges to Poland and Ukraine thanks to a surprise victory over the Netherlands in their final qualifier.

We know we have to be more solid in defence. I think we leave too much space because we always want to get forward.

Adam Johansson

That turnaround in fortunes has had much to do with an injection of youth, and Hamren appears determined to continue trusting his instincts despite his side's group-stage exit at EURO 2012. "Our morale is very positive because we learnt from the EURO," explains Johansson, a leader at the back for Seattle, who have qualified for the Major League Soccer play-offs.

"What we regret most is our bad start. It's vital to get points in your first match and we didn't perform against Ukraine. It's a shame but the squad has learnt lessons from that. We know we have to be more solid in defence. I think we leave too much space because we always want to get forward."

The former IFK Gothenburg right-back and his team-mates will endeavour to correct that fault in their next two qualifiers, away to Faroe Islands on 12 October and in Germany four days later.

Johansson explained: "In Germany, we'll have to adapt to our opponents, be intelligent and, like I said, not leave too much space. In contrast, against the Faroes, we'll need to score quickly to avoid any difficulties."

With an in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in their ranks, Sweden undoubtedly have what it takes to put their plan into action. "He soaks up the attention and pressure and makes life calmer for the rest of us in the national team," said Johansson, before nonetheless stressing that "team spirit and solidarity are the two strengths Sweden have to focus on".

The Blågult are therefore likely to stick with the 4-3-3 formation that has appeared best suited to their talents, with much of the squad based abroad, far from the more physical rigours of the Allsvenskan, Sweden's top flight.

"The coach hasn't changed his attacking philosophy, which is based on possession, and he relies on a core of ten to 15 players," added Johansson, who won the Swedish title in 2007. "His rotations mostly involve the younger players."

Personal pursuit
A former U-21 international himself, Johansson came on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over China PR in September before being left on the bench against Kazakhstan. His goal now is to force his way into the starting line-up, three years after winning his first cap against USA, where he has plied his trade since the start of the year.

The danger, of course, is that his move to Seattle has shifted him to the very edge of Hamren's radar, but Johansson's main priority is taking his career to a new level.

"It's true that it was easier for the coaching staff to come and watch me when I was in Europe," he admitted. "The coach hasn't been to see me yet; he's settled for watching on television, so it's more difficult in terms of being followed. But the MLS has been a very positive experience. I'm improving and that's what's most important."

Johansson quickly paused for a moment, before changing his mind: "As long as Sweden are winning, that's what's most important."