The Big Match Tactical View: Sweden v England

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate may make changes in midfield and attack
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England have a dreadful record against Sweden - but are odds-on favourites here. Michael Cox and Alan Thompson preview the action...

"Jordan Henderson is likely to get plenty of freedom in front of the defence, with Sweden unlikely to pressure him with their midfielders"

Sweden v England
Saturday 15:00, BBC One.
Match Odds: Sweden 5.14/1, England 1.9520/21, The Draw 3.412/5.

England start as strong favourites against Sweden, but Janne Andersson's side are an extremely well-drilled, organised team who will side back, defend deep, and make it very difficult for England to break them down.

Sweden solid rather than spectacular

Sweden have used an identical system and starting XI - barring injuries and suspensions - so far throughout this tournament, and it would be a huge surprise if Anderson made any changes here. Expect 4-4-2, a deep defensive block and long balls up to the front two.

The major threat is clearly Emil Forsberg, the left-sided midfielder who has impressed for RB Leipzig. He hasn't particularly lived up to the billing at this tournament so far - he got the winner against Switzerland in the second round, but even that was a fortunate deflected effort - but England must watch him carefully, particularly in counter-attacking situations.

Otherwise, Sweden will play direct passes into the front two. Ola Toivonen has enjoyed a good tournament, coming deep towards play and holding up the ball or knocking it first-time onto Marcus Berg. He's made some excellent runs but his finishing has been absolutely atrocious. Sooner or later you sense he'll find the net, however, and England must be wary of his movement.

Set-pieces will be the other major threat. Sweden are a tall side, but they're also excellent at picking up the second balls after set-pieces, and England must be careful not to switch off in the 'second phase' of dead ball situations.

England to stick with back three

Gareth Southgate is also unlikely to stray from the system that has got England this far in the competition. The three-man defence should work well against Sweden's front two, with Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker having some freedom to advance with the ball after they and John Stones have played out from the back.

Jordan Henderson is likely to get plenty of freedom in front of the defence, with Sweden unlikely to pressure him from their midfielders. Sweden's front two will drop back onto him once England have kept possession for longer periods, so they must be willing to find Henderson quickly, and in turn he must look for quick passes into the front two.

Jesse Lingard and (probably) Dele Alli will look to make runs beyond the strikers into the opposition box, although Alli hasn't looked fit throughout this tournament and might well be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who would play a slightly more conservative central midfield role.

Potential changes further forward

Another possible change is on the left. England must stretch the play against a Sweden side who leave space out wide - as Germany exploited in the second half of their 2-1 win against them - and therefore Ashley Young might not be the right option. Danny Rose made a good impact in extra-time against Colombia, coming close to scoring, and his natural left-footedness would be a significant boost to England's wing play.

Raheem Sterling hasn't been prominent in this competition, and while his movement has largely been very good, Southgate might consider bringing in Marcus Rashford, who offers more physical presence against Sweden's deep block. Harry Kane will continue to lead the line, and while many of his six goals have been slightly fortunate, or penalties, his all-round game has been excellent. He's continually won fouls in dangerous positions, which has enabled England to prosper from set-pieces, and set-pieces might be the key factor here, as in many games throughout this tournament.

I think England will prevail here, against a side that might struggle to break well against Southgate's three-man defence. I'll back England at 1.9520/21.

The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson

England go into their World Cup quarter final on a massive high, having won a penalty shoot-out at a World Cup for the first time in their history. That will give them a huge confidence boost going into what is still a very tricky game against a talented Sweden side, despite being in the weaker side of the draw.

This Sweden side may not have many star quality names in their lineup after they lost the services of Zlatan Ibrahimovic but they are the side that stopped the Italians from being in Russia, they have recently beaten the likes of Portugal and France and they topped the group that included Germany (albeit the Germans were poor).

England though can only beat what is put in front of them and they are also a talented team, with I believe more quality than their opponents and the market has them as worthy favourites in my opinion, trading at around 1.9520/21.

When you consider that England have conceded in all three of their games in the competition (against much weaker opponents than Sweden, certainly in the group stages) I think you have to expect that the Swedes will find the back of the net at some stage in the game and as I ultimately expect England to proceed in the competition, Both Teams To Score looks a interesting bet to me at 2.427/5 but i’m just not sure if they will need extra time and possibly penalties again.

For that reason, I will be splitting my stake in half backing Both Teams To Score @ 2.427/5 and England/Yes in the Match Odds and Both Teams To Score Market at anything around 6.05/1.

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