FIFA 2018: Sweden, England to lock horns in Quarter Finals aiming World Cup glory

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FIFA 2018: Sweden, England to lock horns in Quarter Finals aiming World Cup glory

With England’s penalty shootout demons well and truly exorcised, Gareth Southgate’s men know that a well-drilled Sweden side is all that stands between the Three Lions and a place in the World Cup semi-final.

Not since 1990 have England found themselves in as strong a position to recapture the World Cup glory they and their fans have been craving since they lifted the trophy for the first and only time in 1966.

The omens appear good, too. Their victory against Colombia in the previous round was the first time in history that England has prevailed in a World Cup penalty shootout, relieving the team of a monkey on their collective back which has permeated English football for decades.

While this alone should infuse England with a sense of freedom which has sometimes been absent from their game but they will need to be at their absolute best to break down a resilient Sweden side who have performed well above expectations in Russia.

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After a less-than-successful performance at the European Championships two summers ago and the subsequent retirement of their most influential player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden boss Janne Andersson has transformed the side into one of the most difficult to beat teams in European football.

READ MORE: Sweden send Switzerland packing and book spot in World Cup quarter-finals

The Swedes have conceded just once in their last six games and they will be buoyed by a very respectable record against the English, with just one defeat in their last eight meetings.

The Swedish togetherness and unity will be a worry for England, especially when you consider that Sweden has created more chances from open play than their opponents on Saturday but they don’t possess a game-changer like Harry Kane, the English captain who has plundered six goals so far in the tournament.

READ MORE: The English are coming! FA ignores Russia ‘threat’ to fly players’ loved ones to the quarter-final

Saturday’s contest in the Samara Arena should show whether or not England have a genuine chance of going all the way in Russia – and if they win, especially impressively, if you strain your ears you might just be able to hear the refrains of “It’s Coming Home” being sung in Samara.

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