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Preview: Sweden vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of the quarter-final clash between Sweden and England at the 2018 World Cup.

England will bid to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990 when they take on Sweden at the Samara Arena on Saturday.

Gareth Southgate's Three Lions roared into the quarters with a 4-3 penalty-shootout victory over Colombia in the previous round, while the Swedes overcame Switzerland 1-0.


Sweden manager Janne Andersson on November 13, 2017© Reuters

England have been installed as the bookmakers' favourites to emerge victorious on Saturday, but Sweden are certain to provide a stern test for Southgate's young side.

Although Janne Andersson's team scraped through qualifying thanks to a 1-0 aggregate win over below-par Italy in the playoffs, their tight defensive setup has made them frustrating opposition for virtually every team they have since faced.

Indeed, the Swedes hold the best defensive record at the World Cup with three clean sheets in four matches.

Their only defeat during the group phase - and the only two goals they have shipped so far - came during a 2-1 reverse against Germany, the result of a last-gasp Toni Kroos goal.

In every match they have contested in Russia, the Blue-Yellows have headed into the break with a clean sheet, suggesting that England will need to exercise patience to have any hope of breaking them down.

They have managed to score in all four of their games thus far, although two of their victories were ground-out 1-0 wins, one of which came against South Korea in the group stage and the other against the Swiss in the last 16.

None of their strikers has stood out as prolific, with Toulouse hitman Ola Toivonen having found the net just once during the tournament and a defender, Andreas Granqvist of Helsingborgs IF, being their top scorer so far, thanks to the two penalty kicks he has buried.

Sweden's current run at the World Cup is their best since 1994, when they finished in third place.

Recent form: WLWW
Recent form (all competitions): DDWLWW


England manager Gareth Southgate on June 2, 2018© Reuters

With England's potential route to the final taking shape, their chances of making World Cup history are arguably higher than they have ever been since the day football came home in 1966.

The winner of their clash with Sweden will face either hosts Russia or Croatia in the semi-finals, both of whom the Three Lions would respect rather than fear.

Spain, Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Uruguay have all crashed out, while the hotly-tipped Belgium and France sit on the opposite side of the draw.

England impressed during the group phase, grinding out a 2-1 victory over Tunisia before thumping Panama 6-1.

Southgate rested players for his final group game against Belgium, whose 1-0 victory over England may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, having set up winnable knockout fixtures.

The penalty-shootout victory over the Colombians will have instilled confidence in the England camp. Not only did the Three Lions end their penalty hoodoo, they recorded a first knockout victory over a South American side since 2006.

However, they still have a poor record in World Cup knockout matches weighing heavily on their shoulders, with the win over Colombia being just their third victory in nine post-group-stage matches.

Southgate will be looking to top goalscorer and Golden Boot contender Harry Kane to provide the threat in the final third. The Tottenham Hotspur forward is now on six strikes, two ahead of Belgium's Romelu Lukaku at the top of the leading goalscorers' chart.

Recent form: WWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWLW

Team news

England's Jamie Vardy in action with Belgium's Mousa Dembele on June 28, 2018© Reuters

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is England's biggest injury doubt for the Sweden game, with the forward suffering a groin strain after coming on off the bench against Colombia.

Ashley Young and Kyle Walker could be subjected to fitness tests ahead of the match, as the former took a knock in the last-16 clash and the Manchester City defender has been suffering from cramp.

Walker - along with Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek - is one booking away from a suspension, and therefore Southgate could bench at least one of them, rather than risk losing them for the semi-finals, should England make it that far.

Sweden, meanwhile, will be forced to make at least one change to their starting XI since right-back Mikael Lustig is banned, paving the way for Emil Krafth to start.

The Swedes are also expected to make a change in midfield, as Sebastian Larsson is pushing for a recall after serving a suspension during the last-16 phase.

Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Krafth, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Toivonen

England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Maguire, Stones, Walker; Trippier, Lingard, Henderson, Alli, Young; Sterling, Kane

Head To Head

England and Sweden have faced one another 25 times overall and on two previous occasions at the World Cup finals.

The Three Lions have the superior record by the finest of margins, winning nine of those games while Sweden have won eight and the other nine were draws.

Both of those prior World Cup meetings were group-stage encounters that finished all square - a 1-1 in 2002 and a 2-2 in 2006.

Although England have the edge when friendly matches are taken into account, they have only defeated the Swedes once in a competitive fixture, a 3-2 victory at the 2012 European Championships.

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We say: England 1-0 Sweden

Sweden are bound to make things tough for England and the Three Lions are certain to find their rock-solid defence tough to break down, but confidence is high in the Three Lions camp right now and Southgate's men have the edge in terms of quality. With Kane firing and his supporting cast looking creative, England should get a result over the line in normal time, but they will need to work for it.

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England's Jamie Vardy in action with Belgium's Mousa Dembele on June 28, 2018
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