The Three Lions’ Biggest Match Of The 21st Century? – Sweden vs. England Preview 

Has an England victory ever felt quite so universally celebrated as their win against Colombia on Tuesday night?
Henry Jackson  |  6th July 2018

Liverpool supporters famously have a strained relationship with the national team, but even the most anti-England Red would have felt a tinge of excitement watching that unforgettable penalty shootout.

It felt like the biggest weight off the Three Lions’ back, having not won on spot-kicks since Euro ’96 and never before in a World Cup, and they are full of confidence heading into the quarter-finals. 

England to win the World Cup is currently 4/1 with RedsBet.

Saturday is a genuinely enormous occasion for the country – perhaps England’s biggest match since the semi-final defeat to Germany at Wembley 22 years ago.

The Two Teams

This is a new-look England – a team that plays without the fear and burden of previous sides, with more likeable individuals involved.

Gareth Southgate has done a superb job in making the Three Lions more popular, both in terms of playing style and general like-ability.

This is far from the most star-studded England squad, but there is a hunger among the players and a close-knit bond that hasn’t always existed.

Finishing second in Group G has ended up working in their favour and Tuesday’s win over Colombia has given them a wonderful chance of reaching the final later this month.

The entire World Cup was blown wide open by much-fancied countries Germany and Spain exiting early on and this is an opportunity England must seize.

They have quality that can hurt anyone on their day, most notably in star man Harry Kane, who leads the scoring charts in Russia with six goals.

Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard all possess talent and dynamism, even if end product can dog them at times, while the likes of Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson are all shining on the big stage.

They have to fancy their chances.

Sweden, meanwhile, have gone about things in their own understated way, reaching the quarter-finals almost without anybody noticing.

Janne Andersson’s men are cut from the same cloth as Burnley – resolute defensively, hard to beat and direct on the ball.

They will not win any admirers when it comes to aesthetics, but as they have shown this summer, they are mighty hard to beat.

Germany got the better of them in stoppage time, but the Swedes saw off South Korea, thumped Mexico 3-0 and then edged out Switzerland in the last-16.

Emil Forsberg was the hero in that first knockout game, and the RB Leipzig man is comfortably their biggest attacking threat. Forsberg to score at anytime is 9/2.

The 26-year-old has been linked with a move to Liverpool in the past and he is someone England will need to watch closely.

Andreas Granqvist is a cult hero in the squad and has been magnificent at the back, while words of praise should also begrudgingly go to Man United’s Victor Lindelof, who has impressed next to his older teammate. 

Liverpool Involvement

Henderson was horribly close to being England’s villain on Tuesday, which would have felt incredibly unjust after the tournament he is having.

Liverpool’s captain has been a key man in the middle of the park, using the ball well, biting into tackles and showing great leadership – one missed penalty should not change that.

Henderson will definitely start on Saturday afternoon, although a yellow card would see him ruled out of the semi-final if England make it. Henderson to score at anytime is 14/1.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has only appeared once in Russia, with Trippier’s excellent form understandably seeing him as second-choice right wing-back behind the Tottenham man.

Just imagine an Alexander-Arnold winner from the substitutes’ bench, though.

Who’s Going To Win?

Much like the Colombia game, this might not be pretty to watch, with Sweden frustrating England with their defence-minded tactics and looking to make the most of set-pieces.

The Swedes have been the Three Lions’ bogey side over the years, but this time Southgate and his players will prevail.

It will be low-scoring, with Kane potentially the difference once again, as England reach the semi-finals.

Imagine saying that a few weeks ago.

Prediction: Sweden 0-1 England

England to win 1-0 is currently 17/4

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