Nerves and confidence for England fans in Samara for World Cup quarter-final
Supporters are gathering for the big clash against Sweden.
England fans were split with a mix of nerves and confidence ahead of the World Cup quarter-final tie with Sweden.
Millions will be gripped in front of televisions across the UK, while in Samara, Russia, thousands of travelling supporters will watch their national side attempt to secure a first semi-final at the tournament in 28 years.
Many of them stopped in the Shannon bar in the centre of the city, on the banks of the Volga river, hours before the game to sing songs and hang up flags.
Among them were brothers Roy and James Ovel, who only made the decision to travel after the penalty shootout win over Colombia, and paid £600 for category one tickets.
Roy, 54, from Hereford, said: “I’m very nervous, they are very well structured as a side and I am very concerned about whether we can break them down.
“But at the end of the day I still think we’re good enough.
“The Colombians were pretty brutal in their way of playing football and deliberately tried to provoke us and it worked.
“Today, I think both teams will play in a proper European-style football game. I think the great thing for England is we are used to playing against that sort of opposition.”
As of Friday, Fifa ticket sales for the game stood at 32,000, meaning there were nearly 10,000 unsold tickets, which was said to be normal for the Samara Arena.
England fans made up 2,836 in sales and Sweden fans numbered 3,078.
We've been out and about meeting #ThreeLions fans in Samara, and it looks like you're feeling calm and confident ahead of today's game. 🤞— England (@England) July 7, 2018
Watch more in today's #LionsDen: https://t.co/LD4sVOiMF3 pic.twitter.com/7pKwpjoYSl
James, 39, from Essex, said: “If we can nick one I think they’ll struggle. But I think they are going to make it very, very frustrating.
“It’s a Premier League championship now, isn’t it really? You could say it was Stoke versus Spurs.”
Asked if England could go all the way, he said: “I said before the tournament, I think we’ve got the right balance, there’s no one out there that’s outstanding – that’s been proven, they’re all out, the big teams.
“And there’s nothing stopping England taking this World Cup home – it’s coming home.”
Jonathan Tickle said he expected England to find it hard to flourish against a tight Swedish defence.
The 23-year-old, who is originally from Preston but has lived in Moscow for a year, said he had a 12-hour car journey to Samara from Nizhny Novgorod after watching France beat Uruguay.
He said: “It’s going to be difficult. Against a more expansive attacking team it might be a little bit different, if we were playing Brazil or something.
“Playing Sweden, what can we really show?
“We just need to do what is right, rather than trying to play good football. Let’s get through.”
Nigel O’Hara, 59, from Bradford, donned a shirt with Gascoigne on the back in a nod to midfielder Paul Gascoigne who played in England’s last World Cup semi-final at Italia 90.
He said: “I’m hoping, fingers crossed, that we do what we need to do.
“We’ve never a had a better path than we’ve got now. It’s our turn this time, hopefully.
“I’m still not sure. It’s been that long since England did anything, really, to get to semis or finals, and inside me I want to be at the final. I’d just love to see it.”