England are preparing for their biggest game in over a decade as they face Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday night.
England have not reached the last eight of the World Cup since 2006. But Gareth Southgate’s side now have the country believing following their dramatic shootout win over Colombia in the last 16 in Moscow on Tuesday night; their first win on penalties in World Cup history. Sweden stand in their way of a semi-final, but England’s record against the Swedes reads as just two victories in 15 games. Janne Andersson’s side beat Switzerland in the last 16, and are looking to reach the last four for the first time since 1994.
Sweden’s strengths will undoubtedly come from their defence, which has conceded only two goals in the whole tournament so far – the lowest of any of the remaining nations, with both coming in their 2-1 defeat to Germany in the group stages.
This will be the 25th meeting between these sides. England have won eight to Sweden’s seven, with nine draws. Both of the previous World Cup meetings between Sweden and England have finished level, with a 1-1 draw in 2002 and a 2-2 in 2006.
What will hold England in good stead is the maturity the team has shown. A young squad, not bothered by the history of the team’s performance at the grand stage, have shown that they have calms heads on developing shoulders. Jamie Vardy could not play a full part in training on Friday due to the groin strain suffered in the win over Colombia, taking part in his own recovery exercise, but Southgate suggested he may be ready to play a part pending a fitness test on Saturday morning.