England, Sweden battle for semifinal berth

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Sweden and England will battle for a place in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup when they meet at the Cosmos Arena in Samara on Saturday, July 7, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Sweden

Sweden were surprise Group F winners ahead of Mexico, South Korea and Germany, and they continued to upset the odds when they defeated Switzerland 1-0 in their last 16 clash on Tuesday.

Emil Forsberg’s second-half goal – which was aided by a big deflection – and a resilient defence saw the ‘Blue-Yellow’ advance into the last eight of a World Cup for the first time since 1994.

Coach Janne Andersson is well aware of his team’s limitations, but always get his charges playing to their strengths. They are hard-working, disciplined, determined and offer just enough in attack, either on the counter or from set pieces, to keep opponents at arm’s length.

Andreas Granqvist
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JULY 03: Andreas Granqvist of Sweden shoots during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Allsport Co./Getty Images)

For Sweden, the key figures remain defender Andreas Granqvist (who epitomises their no-nonsense approach) and aggravating forward Marcus Berg, while England’s 3-5-2 formation could give left winger Forsberg plenty of room to operate in.

England

England finally put their World Cup penalty shootout bogey to bed on Tuesday night when they defeated Colombia 4-3 in a post-match shootout. The teams’ last 16 clash had finished 1-1 after extra time, with Harry Kane’s penalty cancelled out by another towering header from Yerry Mina.

While previous ‘Three Lions’ teams would have crumbled under the pressure, Gareth Southgate’s men remained cool and collected through the shootout and are emerging as real dark horses for the trophy.

VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18:  Jesse Lingard of England shoots at target during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA – JUNE 18: Jesse Lingard of England shoots at target during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

England’s key men are striker and captain Kane (whose six goals see him atop the tournament scoring charts), while Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard will look to use their pace and movement to unsettle Sweden’s backline.

Sweden VS England

In head-to-head terms, Sweden and England have met in 23 previous matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. Each side has claimed seven wins, while nine matches have been drawn.

The teams have met in two previous World Cup matches. Both were in the group stage and both ended in draws: 1-1 in Saitama in 2002 and 2-2 in Cologne in 2006. Their most recent clash was a friendly in Solna in November 2012 which was won 4-2 by the Swedes.

Game prediction

This clash is almost too close to call, with the teams looking very evenly matched given their performances through Russia 2018 thus far. A draw and penalty shootout is a likely outcome, though if a team is to win the match outright it would probably be England given their greater attacking strength.

Sweden v England – head-to-head

Matches played 23
Sweden wins 7
England wins 7
Draws 9
Sweden goals 31
England goals 35