England takes on Sweden in the third quarter-final of Fifa World Cup 2018 at the Samara Arena in Samara on Saturday, July 7.
England vs Sweden preview
England hasn't made the semi-final of a World Cup since the 1990 edition of the quadrennial tournament. Despite all the riches in the local league, the Three Lions have always been underwhelming at the biggest stage of world football.
However, Gareth Southgate's young side, it seems, are playing without the baggage of the not-so-good past. For the first time in the history of their World Cup campaigns, England won a penalty shootout and it came at a crucial time — Round of 16 against Colombia.
Unlike in the past, Harry Kane-led side have not shied away from being aggressive. The captain has led from the front, scoring six goals and leading the race for the Golden Boot.
While they boast a formidable attacking prowess, the likes of Kieran Trippier and John Stones' performance in the attacking third should give Southgate a lot of confidence.
Southgate wary of Sweden's 'strong identity'
Having been drawn in a relatively easier bracket of the knockout stages, English fans have begun to dream. However, Southgate insists that they have to be at their best to get past Sweden, who are heading into the match on the back of some impressive results.
"I've been involved in matches against Sweden many times and always the team has a very strong identity, has better players than people sometimes give them credit for," Southgate told the media on the eve of the quarter-final.
"You only have to look at their results - in the qualifying beating France, in the play-off beating Italy, in this tournament knocking out Germany."
Sweden, who are bidding to reach their first World Cup semi-final since 2013 topped their group at the end of the round-robin stage after a 3-0 win over a depleted Mexico on June 27. Janne Andersson's men edged past higher-ranked Switzerland in the Round of 16.
Having beaten the likes of Germany in the qualifying campaign and Italy in the playoffs, Sweden seems to be no pushovers. Their sturdy defence, which has conceded only two goals so far in the tournament, will be hoping to contain the free-flowing English unit today.
Southgate has a few fitness concerns ahead of the key quarter-final tie. While Jamie Vardy had suffered a groin strain during their win over Colombia and is unlikely to start today. Concerns over the fitness of Dele Alli, Ashley Young and Kyle Walker were downplayed by their boss on the eve of the tie.
Meanwhile, Sweden will be without in-form right-back Mikael Lustig as he is suspended for the all-important match.
England probable XI: Robin Olsen; Emil Krafth, Victor Lindelöf, Andreas Granqvist, Ludwig Augustinsson; Viktor Claesson, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg; Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen
Sweden probable XI: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Dele, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane
World Cup quarter-final global TV guide
- US: Fox Sports, fubo TV; Live stream: Fox Sports GO
- UK: ITV, Live stream: The ITV Hub
- UAE: beIN MAX 3; Live stream: beIN Sports Connect
- Argentina: Canal 7, TyC Sports, DIRECTV Sports; Live stream: DIRECTV Play
- Australia: Optus Sport, SBS
- Bangladesh: PTV Sports, Sony ESPN
- Singapore: StarHub TV, StarHub Go
- France: TF1, beIN Sports 1; Live stream: beIN Sports Connect