World Cup underdogs Sweden take on England for a spot in the World Cup semifinals. It’s a return to glory for both team, neither of whom have reached this stage in the tournament in the 21st century.
England vs. Sweden Preview
Sweden and England will kick off at 2 p.m. Eastern and air on Fox in the United States. England are slight favorites in this matchup, but it’s expected to be a tight affair. Sweden are the largest underdogs remaining in Russia, valued at +2500 heading into the round.
In previous iterations of this England team, a matchup with Sweden could have been regarded as a nightmare. England have a worrying record against the Swedes, and haven’t beaten them since 2012. Overall the teams have met 24 times, with England winning eight times and Sweden winning seven.
But this is a different England team, one that is in the process of banishing all of the old soccer demons. They got over a major hump against Colombia, becoming the first England team to win a penalty shootout at the World Cup. It looked unlikely after England conceded the tying goal in the 93rd minute, but the young side showed resolve and outlasted the persistent Cafeteros.
Sweden have been a fantastic surprise in Russia, entering as one of the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament. They needed a two-legged tie just to qualify as the last team in Europe, and won by an aggregate 1-0 to advance. Most would have preferred their opponents, Italy, in their place. And now here we are.
Other than a 3-0 blowout win over Mexico, Sweden have been a scrappy side in each game in Russia. They nearly knocked off Germany, but fell victim to one of the best goals of the tournament. Even in their Round of 16 win over Switzerland, they got just one goal from Emil Forsberg on a deflection for the win. In fact, Sweden’s best scorer has been a non-factor in the tournament. Marcus Berg has 13 shots in this tournament, more than any other player yet to score a goal.
Through four games, it’s pretty established how Sweden like to play. They have been devastating on the counter, with beautiful sweeping movements for goals against both Mexico and Germany in the group stage. That could work against England, who have been surprisingly aggressive with their abundance of attacking talent.
For Sweden to have a chance, they’ll need to slow down Harry Kane. England’s target man has been as-advertised in the tournament, leading the Golden Boot race with six goals. It will be harder than usual for Sweden to defend, as key right back Mikael Lustig is suspended and will not play. That could give England the edge on the wing, where they were able to keep pace with Colombia and get deep into the attacking third.
Expect a low-scoring affair, and expect the team that scores first to come away with the result. It would shock me if Sweden came away with this one, as England have attacking talent like they’ve never had before on this young and exciting roster.
England vs. Sweden Prediction 2-0 England
Source: Heavy Sports