England, Sweden face tense battle for final four

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Samara, July 6: England will look to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the third time in their history, while the Swedes aim to make it into the last four for the fifth time when the two teams meet in the quarter-finals at the Samara Arena here on Saturday.

Sweden reached the semis in 1938, 1950, 1958 (when they were hosts and would go on to play in the final) and in 1994 in the US, reports Xinhua news agency.

The English qualified for the semi-finals in 1966, (when they won the World Cup on home soil) and 1990, when they endured the heartbreak of losing a penalty shoot-out to Germany.

England finally put their penalty jinx behind them on Tuesday when they beat Colombia and will be favourites to make it into the last four.
However Sweden produced another typically solid display to knock Switzerland out of the round of 16 and give England an idea of the task awaiting them.
Swedish coach Janne Andersson will welcome veteran midfielder Sebastian Larsson back into the side after a suspension, while central defender Andreas Granqvist has opted to stay with the squad even though his wife is expected to give birth at any moment.

England have an injury doubt hanging over striker Jamie Vardy, who picked up a groin injury against Colombia, but that shouldn’t alter Gareth Southgate’s starting XI.

Dele Ali also looked to be struggling with his troublesome left thigh and Southgate will have to decide whether to risk the attacking midfielder or to include Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Fabian Delph, who returned to the squad after his wife gave birth on Tuesday.

The English have been effective from set-pieces, scoring seven of their nine goals at the tournament from corners, penalties or free kicks. They will need to be more clinical in the penalty area against a rival that showed against the Swiss that they are totally committed to defending.
Sweden have their base camp in Gelendzhik, where it is around 10 degrees centigrade hotter than the England training base near St Petersburg. That could be a factor if the game goes into extra time in what promises to be a warm and humid Samara evening. IANS