The first half hour was exactly what Sweden would have wanted – nothing happened on the pitch. But after they went 1-0 down, everything changed.
They missed their marking on the corner when England scored, which was the mistake that cost them the game. After that you always felt that, despite Sweden creating a couple of very good chances, England were in control of what was happening, which they hadn’t been for the first 30 minutes.
Against most of the teams they play, Sweden can succeed through aggression, winning the second ball and tackling hard, but their opponents today were all Premier League players and can also tackle and win second balls.
It was much more difficult for Sweden today than it was against most teams they played in the past. They don’t have Zlatan any more. They don’t have Henrik Larsson any more. They have two guys from my region here in Sweden, Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen, and they are hard workers but they don’t have pace and they don’t score enough goals.
But the Swedish team will arrive home tomorrow to Stockholm and there will be celebrations. That was the big difference today – if England had lost today and arrived back in London tomorrow there would have been no celebrations. Now, even if they lose the semi-final the English people are very proud of their team.
In Sweden, we are proud of this team, because reaching the quarter-final is great for us.
As for England, they showed today that they are not a nervous team. They had patience, and after they took the lead they played with calm and controlled the game.
There was no stress whatsoever, and I think that was class. Even when Sweden created some chances, it wasn’t a problem.
England can improve and create more chances in open play, especially with the fast players they have up front. We haven’t seen the best of this England team yet. They defend well, are good counter-attackers and are extremely good at set pieces, so the only thing missing from this team is creativity. If they improve in that regard – who knows, they might win the final.
Most people who are not English would say the real final is France v Belgium, because they have impressed with the way the play and with the players they have. In one way it’s a pity that it’s a semi-final, but here we are.
I’m sure Gareth Southgate will not say one word about getting to the final, and nor will the players. The fans will be dreaming and you never know what the press will write but all will now be focused on the next game, and it won’t matter whether that’s against Russia or Croatia. England have a big big chance to reach the final – but don’t think about the final, think about the semi-final!
Today, however, they should be very happy. Everyone who saw the game will say the same thing: England deserved to win. Congratulations!