Last Updated: 04/07/18 11:44am
England must not fall into the trap of underestimating Sweden, according to the World Cup Supplement panel.
England are strong favourites for Saturday’s quarter-final after their penalty shootout win over Colombia, but Sweden have shown impressive resilience so far in Russia, keeping clean sheets against South Korea, Mexico and Switzerland and almost holding Germany to a draw.
They lack star quality in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft believes they are capable of frustrating England in the same way Iceland did at Euro 2016.
“They don’t have the Larssons, the Zlatans, the Ljungbergs, but what they do have is the same kind of thing that Iceland had in the last finals,” he said on the latest World Cup Supplement podcast.
“I’ve been hearing from Swedes that the country absolutely loves this Sweden team because they are humble, they are together, and they represent what Swedes are all about: they work really hard for each other.
“They might not play great football but they set a certain bar in terms of effort and organisation. They set you a par and you’ve got to go below par to beat them. They will not let you win easily.
“If England are off it, they won’t win that game. But I do think that if England play as well as they have done at this tournament, they should win that game.”
“Where we are slightly in danger of tripping ourselves up is looking too far ahead, and thinking they are going to be a pushover,” added Daily Mirror chief football writer John Cross.
“They are a long, long way from where they were in the late nineties, early noughties, when we seemed to meet them in every qualifying campaign or at every tournament and they would always give us a hell of a game and be very competitive.
“They don’t have that star quality since Zlatan has gone, but the one thing that strikes you is that they are so together. They are such a unit and it will be that unit which is difficult to play against and break down.”
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