England's progress at this World Cup had delighted a nation, and Kevin Hatchard believes their adventure won't come to an end against Sweden...
"Southgate has given a dedicated young group the tools to succeed, and the England attack is capable of breaking down a determined Swedish side."
Sweden v England
Live on BBC1
Sweden's run based on graft rather than craft
When Janne Andersson won the Swedish Allsvenskan title with Norrkoping in 2015, it was a big surprise, as it was the club's first top-flight success since 1989. Andersson used the same principles that he has stuck to with the national team at this World Cup - build a cohesive unit, underpin it with a solid defence, don't allow the individual to take priority over the collective. He shrugged off the rumours about an impending return to the side for egocentric genius Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and that decision now looks like a masterstroke.
Tactically, Sweden are risk-averse, sitting deep in a compact 4-4-2 and cutting off space whenever possible. They have kept three clean sheets in four World Cup games, and if you stretch back further, they have racked up seven shut-outs in their last ten outings, including two against Italy in the monumental playoff success that booked their ticket to Russia.
After a slow start to the tournament, RB Leipzig playmaker Emil Forsberg had his best game of the World Cup in the 1-0 last-16 victory over Switzerland. Although his goal was a tame deflected strike, the surging run infield from his left-wing position that preceded the shot was typical of the dangerous moments he can produce. Sweden are hoping to get Forsberg in behind adventurous England wing-back Kieran Trippier, and given that he often takes free-kicks, it's worth noting that Forsberg is [7.0] to score in 90 minutes.
Andersson isn't expected to make too many changes. Right-back Mikael Lustig is suspended, while midfielder Seb Larsson (who has played in English football for 17 years) is available after a ban.
Three Lions growing up fast in World Cup spotlight
Whether "it's coming home" or not, England manager Gareth Southgate has already done some very important work at this tournament. He has knitted together a talented yet inexperienced group of players, and with detailed preparation and a cerebral man-management style, he has given those players the tools they need to progress. In the crucible of a penalty shoot-out against Colombia in the last 16, a strong belief was forged, among players and fans alike.
Colombia's somewhat brutal and negative approach isn't a carbon copy of what Sweden will serve up, but it has shown that England can go toe-to-toe with physical opponents. Against the Scandinavians, England will have spells where they need to be patient, but the last-gasp win over Tunisia showed they can get results if they stick to their style against determined and dogged opponents.
One concern for Southgate will be his side's apparent defensive weakness at set plays. The goal that Panama scored in England's 6-1 win was a horror show from a free-kick, and the last-gasp concession of a goal to Colombia's Yerry Mina at a corner could have been extremely costly. England have shown imagination and variety with their attacking set-plays, and they must show more discipline and concentration at the other end, especially given the aerial threat that Sweden pose at corners and free-kicks.
Southgate has little to worry about in terms of injuries, with Dele Alli and captain Harry Kane both expected to be passed fit. Kane has been a remarkable leader, not just with his six goals, but also with his ability to lead the line and take pressure off his team-mates by holding the ball up and drawing fouls. Ahead of the quarter-finals, Kane is the World Cup's top scorer with six goals, and is [1.38] to win the Golden Boot.
England are trading at evens to win inside 90 minutes, and although Sweden deserve respect for their recent performances, Southgate's men can get the better of them. England defended superbly against Colombia apart from one late lapse, and they can contain the limited strikeforce of Ola Toivonen and Markus Berg.
At the other end, the clever runs of Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling could help to open up a compact Swedish team, and if Kane gets chances to score, he is in great shape to take them. Opta tell us he has scored with all six of his shots on target at this World Cup.
Germany unsettled Sweden when they moved the ball quickly in the second half of a 2-1 win for Die Mannschaft in the group stage, and I believe England can do that on a more consistent basis.
Back England at [2.0].
Sweden's safety-first approach could slow England down a bit, and given that eight of their last 11 matches have featured fewer than three goals, it's no surprise to see Under 2.5 Goals trading at [1.55].
England's last two games in the tournament have seen an Under 2.5 Goals bet land, and there's scope to back an England/Under 2.5 Goals double at [3.4].
Another avenue is backing Second Half in the Half With Most Goals market on the Sportsbook at 6/5. Opta tell us that just one of Sweden's six goals have come before half-time, while England drew a first-half blank against both Belgium and Colombia.
Given the lethal form that he is in, Harry Kane has to be worth considering to score in 90 minutes at [2.3]. Yes, three of his six goals have been penalties and one came off his heel, but he looks incredibly sharp. Sweden are tough to break down, but they do give up chances, and Kane should snap one up if it comes his way.
If you want to put together your own acca using the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi feature, you could back England to win, Harry Kane to score, and Under 2.5 Goals at combined odds of nearly 11/2.
Kevin's World Cup P/L
P/L: - 5.24pts
Key Opta Stats
This will be the 25th meeting between these sides. England have won eight to Sweden’s seven, with nine draws. Another draw is [3.35].
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 (both in the group stages). Both teams to score is [2.42].
Sweden could become the third team that England have beaten at both the World Cup and European Championships, after Germany and Switzerland. They beat Sweden 3-2 in EURO 2012. An England win is [1.97].
Sweden are competing in their fifth World Cup quarter-final – they’ve progressed to the semi-final in three of their previous four (1938, 1958 and 1994), losing only in 1934 against Germany. The Swedes are [3.05] to progress in the To Qualify market.
England have reached the World Cup quarter-final for the first time since 2006, when they lost on penalties to Portugal. They’ve not progressed beyond this stage since 1990, when they beat Cameroon 3-2. They are [1.48] to make it to the semi-finals.
England have only progressed from two of their eight previous World Cup quarter-final appearances, doing so in 1966 and 1990. You can lay their qualification at [1.49].
11 of Sweden’s last 14 goals at the World Cup have been scored in the second half, including five of their six goals at this tournament. The England half-time/draw full-time double result is [20.0].
No England player has scored more World Cup goals in a single tournament than the six Harry Kane has scored in 2018. Gary Lineker also netted six in 1986, winning the Golden Boot in the process. Kane is [2.12] to score.
Harry Kane could become only the third player in the history of the England national team to score in seven consecutive appearances – the others are George Camsell (9 in a row between 1929 and 1936) and Steve Bloomer (10 in a row between 1895 and 1899). He's [4.0] to open the scoring.
Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen has kept three clean sheets at the 2018 World Cup, a joint-record for a Swedish goalkeeper in World Cup finals history (also three clean sheets for Ronnie Hellström in 1974 and Karl Svensson in 1958). Another Swedish clean sheet is [3.75].
Sweden striker Marcus Berg has had 13 shots without scoring at the 2018 World Cup, the most of any player to fail to score this tournament; the last Sweden player to have more shots without scoring at a World Cup was Ove Grahn in 1974 (17 shots, 0 goals). An England clean sheet is [2.08].