Manager Gareth Southgate says England “might not have this opportunity again” as he plots a way past Sweden in the quarterfinal to a first World cup semifinals appearance in three decades.
Southgate told the BBC his team of youngsters led by Golden Boot contender Harry Kane “must make the most” of the way the cards have fallen for them in Russia.”It’s a great opportunity, and although our team will be individually better in two years, we might not have this opportunity again,” said Southgate.
England’s penalty shootout win over Colombia in the last 16 means only Sweden stand between them and reaching the semifinals for the first time since 1990.
But despite all the euphoria generated back in England by his team’s progress, Southgate cautioned against getting too far ahead of themselves.”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.
Sweden have proved a notoriously tough rival for England in the past, with Southgate pointing out: “They are older, more experienced, and have a better tournament record than us.”
Meanwhile, Sweden coach Janne Andersson said his side were “easy to analyse but very difficult to e said about beat.”I think there was a coach who once said about their team that they’re quite easy to analyse but quite difficult to beat. I think that’s a right description for us,” Anderson told reporters on Friday.
“It shouldn’t be that difficult to get an idea of what we do. The surprise is probably that we’re terribly consistent,” he added.
“Whether or not you take us seriously and how they perceive it, that’s very difficult for me to say. We really have been from the outset,” Andersson said. Sweden have lost to England just once in eight meetings -a 2-3 defeat during the group stage at Euro 2012 – but Andersson said past records are meaningless. “we’re a completely different squad and so are they, so anything that went before is not relevant,” he said. The 3-0 win over Mexico in Sweden’s final group match is the only time the Scandinavians have scored more than once in their past 11 official games. They have kept three clean sheets in Russia but captain Andreas Granvist will have his work cut out against Harry Kane, the leading scorer in the competition with six goals.
“He’s incredibly skilled, not just at penalties but as a striker. It’s going to be a very tough match against him but we will do our best to stop him,” said Granqvist, who will be partnered by Victor Lindelof in defence. Andersson said it Would take a “holistic approach” to beat England, who are looking to reach their first world cup semifinal in 28 years. “Many things must be right to beat a team like England. we need to get the defene right, be courageous when we have possession. we have a clear idea of what we want to do in attack and we want to able to implement all of this,” he said.