World Cup 2018: England face Sweden for semi-final place in Russia

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2018 Fifa World Cup quarter-final: Sweden v England
Venue: Samara ArenaDate: Saturday, 7 JulyTime: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button and iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online

England is set to come to a standstill on Saturday as the national team faces Sweden for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Millions of fans will follow the match across the BBC from 15:00 BST, as the quarter-final clash kicks off in the Russian city of Samara.

England have not reached the last four of the tournament for 28 years and their sole World Cup win came in 1966.

Manager Gareth Southgate said: “We’re improving and want to make history.”

England are favourites to reach the last four from what is considered the easier side of the draw, with the winners of the match facing Russia or Croatia – who play later at 19:00 BST.

With the country basking in a heatwave, thousands of fans will watch the game on big screens at events up and down the country; barbecues are being prepared and pub gardens are set for bumper business.

The climax of England’s World Cup penalty shootout win over Colombia on Tuesday was seen by 23.6 million viewers on ITV.

Pubs are expected to do bumper business on Saturday

Bluffer’s guide to the match

  • England are in their first World Cup quarter-final for 12 years and are aiming to reach the semi-finals for the first-time since 1990.
  • Sweden, the 1958 runners-up, last reached the quarter-finals in 1994 when they went on to finish third.
  • England are the only side left in their side of the draw who have a won a World Cup before.
  • Tuesday’s victory over Colombia was England’s first in a World Cup penalty shootout.
  • England have scored nine goals already at this World Cup – the only time they have scored more is in 1966 when they won the tournament.

How to follow the game

Television: Countdown to the match starts at 14:00 on BBC One, presented by Gary Lineker. Analysis comes from Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Jurgen Klinsmann, with commentary by Guy Mowbray and Martin Keown.

Radio: Build-up begins at 06:00 with Rachel Burden in Samara, followed by Robbie Savage’s World Cup Breakfast (08:30). Mark Chapman and Kelly Cates continue coverage from 11:00. John Murray is the match commentator alongside Chris Waddle, with post-match reaction in 606.

Online: Latest news, social media, video clips, photos and updates from 07:00 before full live text commentary on the match.

The last time England played Sweden at a World Cup

How the teams shape up

England could be without striker Jamie Vardy who has a groin injury, but are hoping that left-back Ashley Young recovers from an ankle knock and midfielder Dele Alli’s thigh injury is not a major problem.

Captain Harry Kane is aiming to become only the second Englishman after Lineker to win the Golden Boot for the World Cup’s top scorer. He needs one goal to break Lineker’s feat of scoring six times in 1986.

“My target isn’t the Golden Boot,” Kane told reporters. “The target is to win the tournament. That’s always been the target.”

Sweden are 24th in Fifa’s rankings – 12 places below England – and are without national hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who retired from international football two years ago.

But they finished ahead of the Netherlands in qualifying, beat Italy in the subsequent play-offs and topped their group in Russia containing defending champions Germany.

After Sweden’s 2-0 win over Switzerland which sealed a spot in the last eight, coach Janne Andersson said: “We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done – we want to win the next match too.”

The team had a rude awakening on Saturday when their hotel fire alarm went off first thing in the morning.

Though there have been no suggestions of foul play, it follows an earlier incident in the tournament when police were called after Iran fans tried to stop the Portuguese team from sleeping by making noise outside their hotel.


Matches 24: England won 8; drawn 9; lost 7.

Football’s coming home?

Expectation levels among England fans were relatively low ahead of the tournament, after a series of previous disappointments including a humiliating knockout defeat by Iceland at Euro 2016.

However, an early exit for defending champions Germany, as well as the shock departure of five-time victors Brazil on Friday, has boosted optimism in the England camp.

In fact, it is the first time in history of the competition that none of Brazil, Germany or Argentina have made the semi-finals.

Former England players including Rio Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton tweeted their support on Saturday morning.

Many supporters have been chanting, singing or simply declaring “it’s coming home” in reference to the ‘Three Lions’ song written for Euro 96 by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner with the band the Lightning Seeds.

The World Cup match takes place on a busy sporting afternoon that also includes Wimbledon tennis, qualifying for Formula One’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the first stage of cycling’s Tour de France.

Southgate – leader and unlikely fashion icon

Southgate and Colombia coach Jose Pekerman console Mateus Uribe after the penalty shootout defeat to England

England manager Southgate has been winning fans with his calm demeanour, sporting behaviour and a nice line in waistcoats.

Retailer Marks & Spencer, which supplies the England team’s official World Cup suit, reckons the Southgate effect has seen waistcoat sales rise 35%.

Fans on social media have been sharing polite letters sent to them by Southgate – and the Twitter hashtag #GarethSouthgateWould was trending.

Southgate, 47, has said England must “make the most” of their World Cup opportunity, but warned against under-estimating an “older, more experienced” Sweden.

“You have to enjoy the good moments, but I am a long way from perfect, there are plenty of mistakes we have made while we have been here and we will make moving forward, so I think it is dangerous territory if we get carried away with things,” said Southgate.

That has not stopped England fans singing a tribute to the manager to the tune of Atomic Kitten’s 2001 hit ‘Whole Again’:

Looking back on when we first met,

I cannot escape and I cannot forget,

Southgate you’re the one, you still turn me on,

You can bring it home again!

Southgate, who famously missed a penalty shootout against Germany in Euro ’96, has welcomed the altered song: “It’s not as questionable as most of the lyrics that have been sung about me in the past,” he quipped.

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