Repino: Enthused by an exciting young squad and a potentially kind draw against Sweden in Saturday’s quarterfinal, England fans are starting to believe they can end a 52-year wait to win the World Cup.
But the obdurate Scandinavians have a habit of upsetting the odds, particularly against England, having lost just one of eight previous competitive meetings.
Confidence in England is soaring after the team ended a long wait to win a World Cup penalty shootout, squeezing past Colombia in a tense and bad-tempered last 16 tie in Moscow.
We let our opponents have the ball in the places we want them to. In spite of having less ball possession, we have created more dangerous chances. This is how we play… this is our way to have success
Andreas Granqvist / Sweden captain
The Three Lions, World Cup winners in 1966, have already won over a public disaffected by an early exit in Brazil four years ago and an embarrassing defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016.
Sweden have arguably faced a much tougher path to get to the last eight, eliminating the Netherlands and Italy in qualifying just to get to Russia and then emerging as winners of Group F as holders Germany crashed out.
We’d like to bring the World Cup trophy home. It’s been a long time since we last won it. And Sweden, sometimes they can throw you out. They are good team and they wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t
John Stones / England defender
Shorn of star names since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s retirement from international football, Sweden have thrived off a collective team spirit. Happy to sacrifice possession, defend deep and wait for their opportunity on the counter-attack, they will let England have most of the ball.
But other than in a 6-1 thrashing of Panama in the group stages, England have struggled to create chances from open play, with seven of their nine goals so far coming from set-pieces and penalties.
Sweden’s solid defence has kept three clean sheets in four games in Russia, but coach Janne Andersson will be forced into at least one change at the back, with Celtic’s Mikael Lustig suspended.
- England have eight wins as compared to Sweden’s seven in their previous 24 meetings with nine ended in draws
- Their last two face-offs at World Cup ended stalemates with 1-1 in 2002 and 2-2 in 2006, both in group matches
- England have progressed twice of their previous eight World Cup quarterfinal appearances, in 1966 and 1990
- Harry Kane has six goals so far in three matches at this World Cup, including a hat-trick against Panama