Winner takes it all – much ado about England’s next opponents, Sweden
Sweden stand between Gareth Southgate’s team and a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
England’s next opponent is a nation known for ABBA and Ikea, meatballs and Scandi noir thrillers.
But it will be Sweden’s football team that will be looking to etch their names into history when they take on England in a World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.
In terms of supporter numbers at this summer’s tournament, the Swedes are unlikely to outnumber Three Lions’ fans, unlike at England’s previous matches against Colombia and Tunisia, when England supporters were outnumbered.
According to Fifa figures, Swedish fans have bought more than 18,000 tickets for the tournament so far, while England fans had snapped up at least 34,000.
But this figure does not include those resold through the official website and through unauthorised sellers so figures could be higher.
A more accurate measure may be the Fan ID, which acts as a visa to Russia for the duration of the World Cup, and figures from the Russian Ministry of Communication suggest 16,700 Swedes have ordered the ID cards compared with around 17,700 English.
As a member of the EU, many Britons have taken the chance to travel to the Scandinavian country – the Foreign Office estimated more than 857,000 people visited in 2016.
With a population of 10 million people in a country of more than 450,000 square metres, and 86% of Swedes living in cities, much of Sweden is untouched natural beauty.
According to the official Sweden.se website, there are 95,700 lakes and in summer, in the northernmost reaches, it has 56 days of continuous daylight and 32 days of darkness in winter.
It is the country that gave the world flat-pack furniture behemoth Ikea, safety-conscious Volvo, which invented the three-point seatbelt in 1959, and the Nobel Prize awards for human brilliance.
An estimated two million meatballs are eaten every day in Ikea’s 340 stores worldwide, the country’s website says.
Its manufacturing economy is based on national resources such as timber, iron ore and hydropower, while exports of cars, telecoms equipment and engines make up a large proportion of Sweden’s gross domestic product, according the US Central Intelligence Agency country factfile.
Aside from its footballing heroes, such as Celtic star Henrik Larsson, Sweden’s most famous cultural exports include pop stars Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid (ABBA), actress Ingrid Bergman, singer Zara Larsson and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo writer Stieg Larsson.