Samara (Russia) (AFP) – England won a World Cup penalty shootout for the first time to reach the quarter-finals, but upcoming opponents Sweden will pose another challenge that has proved notoriously difficult in the past.
In eight competitive meetings, England have won just once — a 3-2 victory in the group stage at Euro 2012 — with two wins for Sweden and five draws.
Saturday’s match in Samara will be the third World Cup clash between the two countries — after a 1-1 draw at the 2002 edition before a 2-2 draw four years later in Germany.
England coach Gareth Southgate, who was part of the squad in 2002, conceded previous teams had perhaps not treated Sweden with the respect they deserved.
“We’ve not got a good record against them, I think we’ve always underestimated them,” Southgate said following a dramatic victory over Colombia in the last 16.
“They have good plans, they have a clear way of playing – and it’s bloody difficult to play against.
“They are greater than the sum of their parts more often than not, so that is a hugely difficult game for us.”
Sweden may be short on star power following the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Janne Andersson’s men secured a place in the finals at the expense of the Netherlands and Italy.
They also beat title contenders France in qualifying, while only a late Toni Kroos strike denied them a point against defending champions Germany in the group stage.
“We’ve proved time after time, even when we play the big nations we find a way to win the game,” said defender Mikael Lustig, who is suspended for the England tie.
“This World Cup has been crazy so far so hopefully it will continue like that.”
Sweden remain one of the least fancied teams in the knockout stages, but captain Andreas Granqvist admitted that could play to their advantage.
“Someone said something about 99 times out of 100 England would beat us,” said Granqvist, who could miss the birth of his second child for the quarter-final.
“Well, it’s fun for England to have that sort of confidence. Let’s play the game and see how things go.”
Swedish football journalist Kristopher Karlsson told AFP his country’s success against England can be partly traced to the footballing links between the two nations.
“Playing England is as big as it gets for a Swedish football player. They grow up on English football,” he said.
“It has been like that since our equivalent of BBC started broadcasting the English first division in the late 1960s.
“So you have one team who are playing a game as big as it gets in their international career. And you have another team with everything to lose. A team which in the past has had delusions of grandeur.”
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Arsenal sign Gabriel Jesus from Man City
- Where to find USWNT vs. Haiti on US TV
- ViX+ reveals pricing details and soccer coverage plans
- Get a Paramount+ one month free trial for a limited time
- Who should host the World Cup Final in 2026?
- Where to find Orlando Pride vs. Racing Louisville on US TV
- Ronaldo wants to leave Man United – reports
- Kylian Mbappé can shock the world again at World Cup 2022
- What is the best soccer stadium in the world?
- Where to find Santos vs. Flamengo on US TV