Sven-Goran Eriksson: Sweden will bring back memories of Iceland

The former England manager insists his homeland shouldn’t be written off in the World Cup quarter final, and says they won't be intimidated by Harry Kane...

Comments

England have a great chance to make a World Cup semi final. But, if anyone in the squad thinks they have an easy game on Saturday, they’re wrong. It’ll be the most difficult game they’ll have played so far, they can bet on that.

Sweden are so difficult to break down. They are very solid and really tough. If you woke them up in the middle of the night, they would know every position in defending – any possibility in the game, they know what to do. They are so well organised.

I can see a draw and extra-time. England have set pieces, Sweden will make some chances, but the game will come down to luck – the team that makes the most of their luck will win. It will be very tight.

My brain says England, though my heart says Sweden.

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY – JULY 01: Manager of England Sven Goran Eriksson gestures during the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Quarter-final match between England and Portugal played at the Stadium Gelsenkirchen on July 1, 2006 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Fancy Sweden to swipe aside Southgate’s squad? Back them on PaddyPower.com

But, in the last thirty years, how many times have England beaten Sweden? Not often – twice.

During my time with England we met them four times. We lost once, and the others were a draw and, going back before that, Sweden have beaten England in big games.

It would be easier for England to beat Brazil than to beat Sweden in my opinion, Sweden today are a very hard team to break down. Their strikers are defenders when it’s time to defend and they can defend in their own box as well.

Their running, their commitment, their physical work is incredible.

Sweden won’t fear Harry Kane – and will be like Iceland in 2016

England will be expected to make the play on Saturday. Sweden always want their opponents to have the ball – they don’t want it. They’ll give it away and let their opponents play.

Switzerland’s forward Josip Drmic (L) and Sweden’s defender Andreas Granqvist jump for the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Sweden and Switzerland at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 3, 2018. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

England will make a lot of passes, but to play through the centre will be very difficult and on crosses Sweden are very confident.

Harry Kane will be a tougher challenge than they’re used to, but Sweden won’t be impressed by Kane – or whoever is in the England team. Not at all.

They will not change anything. They’ll be 4-4-2, organised, let England have the ball, no problem. They’ll wait.

Many teams have tried to break down Sweden. Italy couldn’t score in 180 minutes in the qualifying play-offs. Germany struggled in the group stage and needed Toni Kroos’s free kick to save them. Switzerland could have played for a week and still not scored against Sweden.

The defence is a great strength. Especially from set pieces. Sweden are a tall team at the back and very well organised.

Both teams will have the problem of scoring on Saturday. It’s a good thing that England are scoring from corners, penalties and free kicks, and they look very dangerous from these all the time.

I would be a little concerned for them for the future because, in open play, they struggle to create good chances. But Sweden do not create a lot from open play, either.

Sweden will be more or less the same as Iceland in Euro 2016. They don’t have the best footballers in the world, and none of our players would play in the first team of the biggest clubs in the world since Zlatan has left.

But, as a team, the way they work together, they are one of the best. You won’t find a better team.

Emil Forsberg is the one who sticks out. He’s the one who can change the game, win one-on-ones, and Andreas Granqvist, the captain, is the best player, a fantastic defender – but it’s as a team that Sweden has strength.

Penalty win is big boost

The important thing is that England went through on penalties for once. That’ll be great for their confidence going on in the tournament.

Everyone get worried when a game goes to penalties, and with the record England have in competitions, it’s huge in England that they’ve managed to win the shootout here.

Of course, penalties are a special issue in games like this. I don’t know how much difference winning the shootout will make when they play the next game, but it’s great for confidence because of England’s history.

Think England can win another penalty shootout?! Get the latest odds on PaddyPower.com

What do you think?