World Cup 2018: Sweden vs. England preview, players to watch, key stats

By Harry West 6 July 2018 1047
World Cup 2018: Sweden vs. England preview, players to watch, key stats

John Stones is continuing to dream of World Cup glory but knows Sweden presents a formidable challenge for England in Saturday's quarterfinal in Samara.

Janne Andersson's men were the first of these two sides to secure their last-eight spot with a 1-0 win over Switzerland on Tuesday, courtesy of Emil Forsberg's deflected second-half strike.

A few hours later, the Three Lions banished their penalty shootout hoodoo by defeating Colombia on spot-kicks following a feisty 1-1 draw in Moscow.

After disappointing showings in the past two editions in South Africa and Brazil, England's progress to the quarterfinals has whipped the nation into a frenzy of optimism and fantasy.

Stones, who impressed at the heart of defense against Colombia, is daring to dream but is wary of a supremely well-drilled Sweden side.

"I've said it from the start. I'd love to win the World Cup. I've dreamt about it," he said at a news conference. "That's what we want to do. We've come here to try and win it.

"I'd love to win a World Cup, England would love to win a World Cup. It's been a long time since we last won it. We want to make people proud back home, proud of the England team.

"We're one step closer to doing that but we still know that we've got games ahead of us. We should be solely focused on this Sweden game, one step at a time and take it from there.

"There are no easy games. I think if you say it's an easy game in a quarterfinal of a World Cup then you are pretty stupid to say that. They've got a lot of quality. 

"We show them the respect we do to every team, there are still a few days until the game but we do our
research on them. Make sure we take advantage of every opportunity and see where it takes us."




England has won just three of 13 competitive matches against Nordic nations since last reaching a World Cup semifinal in 1990, although some supporters still see Sweden as an inferior opponent.

"I read something about that," said Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist. "Something about 99 times out of 100 they would beat us. Well, it's fun for England to have that sort of confidence. Let's play the game and see how things go.

"We know Sweden usually play well against England. We have had good results against them — so to me it doesn't really matter."

Defender Granqvist will be without suspended right back Mikael Lustig beside him, while England's primary concern centers around Jamie Vardy, who is a doubt with the groin injury that prevented him from taking a penalty against Colombia.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sweden - Marcus Berg

Yet to get off the mark at this World Cup, but England should not treat lightly a man who has scored 98 goals in 137 appearances across the past five league seasons for Panathinaikos and Al Ain.

England - Kieran Trippier

The likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard earn much of the praise as England's premier attacking threats, but wing-back Trippier is having a superb tournament. The Tottenham man has been defensively sound and his delivery from both set-pieces and open play is a real weapon.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the 25th meeting between these sides. England has won eight to Sweden's seven, with nine draws.

- Both of the previous World Cup meetings between Sweden and England have finished level, 1-1 in 2002 and 2-2 in 2006 (both in the group stages).

- England has only progressed from two of its eight previous World Cup quarterfinal appearances, doing so in 1966 and 1990.

- Harry Kane has scored with all six of his shots on target for England at the World Cup, including three penalties. The last player to score three at a World Cup tournament was Bulgaria's Hristo Stoichkov in 1994.

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Harry West

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