Can England Proceed With Their Improbable Run Against Sweden?

Jeremy Harper

Thursday, July 5, 2018 2:27 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 5, 2018 2:27 PM UTC

England won a penalty shootout in a World Cup game on Tuesday. At last. 

<h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Live Odds For This Game">Sweden vs England</a></h2><p>And if they were able to banish that longstanding hoodoo against Colombia, is it any wonder the cries of "football's coming home" are being sung a little louder and with increasing conviction too?</p><p>Of course, three testing games stand between the Three Lions and a historic triumph, starting on Saturday with a showdown against a rock-solid Sweden outfit.</p><p>There's a refreshing sense of belief about the group Gareth Southgate has put together for the tournament in Russia though. In the recent past England games have been greeted with a degree of trepidation at major championships; this one the country can't seem to quite wait for.</p><p>You get the sense the players representing England feel the same way. There's a camaraderie that simmers within this group and that'll only be reinforced by the manner in which they came through the game on Tuesday.</p><p>England weren't at their best throughout the 120 minutes, but were the side in control of the contest, aside from one lapse late in normal time. To steady themselves after that setback and then stay composed during penalties was a testament to their mental strength too, with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and decisive taker Eric Dier showing as much bottle as anyone.</p><p>Saturday is likely to be a different type of test for the players, with brains as well as brawn needed if they're to unpick a Sweden defence that's frustrated some of the strongest attacking setups in the competition so far.</p><p>Indeed, manager Janne Andersson has done a tremendous job to take these players to this point in the competition. Every member of the squad has bought into the blueprint he's laid out, with no passengers present in the XI; it's not aesthetic for viewers, but it's a formula that South Korea, Mexico and Switzerland have all found difficult to crack.</p><p>Andersson has drawn every possible sinew out of the lads in yellow too. While players like Andreas Granvist and Ola Toivonen now have modest club careers, they're pillars of strength at both ends of the field for this Sweden side. And the rest fall in line behind these two talismanic figures.</p><p>It's tough to see Sweden deviating from their plan at all on Saturday, meaning the onus will be on England to break them down.</p><p>It'll be as tough an examination as this Sweden back four have had. While Colombia's centre-back duo of Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez have the athletic capabilities to cope with the bright movement of players like Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard, if the Three Lions can isolate Victor Lindelof and Granqvist, they can exploit their lack of mobility.</p><p>Plus, in Harry Kane England have a footballer in red-hot form. It means that while Sweden won't give up many opportunities in this one, should any fall to the Tottenham Hotspur man, who has six goals in three games at this tournament, you can bet he'll stick one away.</p><p>Sweden will look to cause problems for the Three Lions from set pieces and with crosses into the box, from which Toivonen and Marcus Berg have caused chaos at times. They also have a strong record against England, having only lost once in the last eight meetings between the sides.</p><p>Still, as things stand England appear better equipped to come through in what's unlikely to be one of the most entertaining of the four quarter-final matches.</p><h2>Prediction: England 1-0 Sweden</h2><h2>Best Bets</h2><p><em>England to win 1-0 (5.50 <a href=";a=e605009c-af6d-4596-a06f-dbd28d37b12f&amp;f=2" title="top rated sportsbook">Bet365</a>)</em></p><p><em>Draw </em><em>half time</em><em>/England full time (5.00 <a href=";a=26ea6fa8-c86d-4d9d-9328-b4c0b06702ae&amp;f=2" title="top rated sportsbook">Unibet</a>)</em></p><p><em>England to win to nil (2.75 <a href=";a=4d1545c6-88ce-4d1a-b541-31ea9e8a0d9b&amp;f=2" title="top rated sportsbook">SkyBet</a>)</em></p>
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