England will be looking to build on their dramatic penalty shootout win over Colombia when they face an inspired Sweden side in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final at the Samara Arena.
FIFA World Cup Quarter-finals
07 July 2018
Venue: Samara Arena
Referee: B. Kuipers
Assistants: S. van Roekel, E. Zeinstra
Fourth official: A. Lahoz
Sweden 4-2 England (Friendly) 14/11/2012
Sweden goalscorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (20′, 77′, 84′, 90+1′)
England goalscorers: Welbeck (35′), Caulker (38′)
Players to watch:
After his heroic save from Carlos Bacca’s penalty gave England a spot in the quarter-finals, Jordan Pickford will be looking to carry his momentum into this game.
The last time England played Sweden, Joe Hart was humiliated by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s outrageous overhead volley. Pickford will be looking to claim revenge against Sweden on behalf of English goalkeepers.
At the other end, Andreas Granqvist has made the ultimate sacrifice for his country – declaring himself available for the quarter-final even though his wife is heavily pregnant.
It will be interesting to see how Granqvist copes with the game mentally and whether or not the captain’s selflessness rubs off on his teammates.
Team form and manager quotes:
Sweden turned heads by finishing top of a tricky Group F, which included Mexico, defending champions Germany, and South Korea.
They then saw off Switzerland in the last 16, but although they have long since exceeded expectations at the tournament, coach Janne Andersson isn’t resting.
Andersson said: “We are not satisfied with this. We want to win the next match.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate has insisted that England are fully aware of the challenge ahead of them, unlike other teams who Sweden have shocked.
“We have huge respect for Sweden. They are a team that I think in the past have been underestimated – we won’t make that mistake,” he said.
— Dele (@dele_official) July 6, 2018
England’s win against Colombia saw Southgate become the first England manager to lead his side to World Cup a penalty shootout victory and the first to steer them to the quarter-finals since Sven Goran Eriksson in 2006.
Sebastian Larsson returns from his suspension, but Sweden will be without defender Mikael Lustig for the same reason. A solid defence is central to their game and they will need to make sure they can cope without the Celtic man.
Gareth Southgate has been sweating over the fitness of Ashley Young, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy. However, the latest indications are that the only one who is a major doubt is the Leicester City striker, who suffered a groin strain against Colombia.