Belfast Telegraph

Everything you need to know about England’s quarter-final opponents Sweden

The Scandinavians stand between the Three Lions and a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

England take on Sweden in Samara on Saturday afternoon for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Here, Press Association Sport details everything you need to know about the Scandinavians.

World Cup record

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Striker Henrik Larsson, left, played in three World Cups with Sweden, reaching the semi-finals in 1994 (AP)

Sweden have now played at 12 World Cup finals, finishing runners-up to Brazil when they hosted the tournament in 1958. Previously, Sweden reached the semi-finals in both 1938 and 1950. However, the Scandinavians would then not qualify for the finals again until 1970 in Mexico. A side including the likes of Jesper Blomqvist, Anders Limpar, Tomas Brolin, Martin Dahlin and Henrik Larsson reached the semi-finals of the 1994 World Cup in the United States, losing 1-0 to eventual winners Brazil. After making it to the knockout stages of both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, Sweden did not qualify for the next two tournaments.

Former greats

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s all-time record goalscorer (John Walton/PA)

Only one place to start, with striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is Sweden’s all-time record goalscorer with 62 from his 116 caps – and had looked set to come out of international retirement to play at the 2018 World Cup following his move to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Former Southampton midfielder Anders Svensson holds the record number of international caps for Sweden, with 148 appearances between 1999 and 2013. Larsson, who had spells with Celtic and Manchester United during a long domestic career, scored 37 goals from his 106 games for Sweden.

Current danger men

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England will need to keep a close eye on Sweden dangerman Emil Forsberg, right (AP)

RB Leipzig attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg carries a lot of Sweden’s creative burden – and England will have to watch out for him cutting in from the left. Forsberg produced a fine performance in the last-16 match against Switzerland, his deflected shot enough to give the Swedes a hard-earned 1-0 win to reach the quarter-finals. Striker Marcus Berg, who plays his club football for Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, is yet to score in the tournament, but will be a threat with 13 attempts on goal from his four appearances. If Sweden get a penalty, bank on veteran defender Andreas Granqvist, who has slotted home two at the tournament so far.

Manager

Sweden head coach Janne Andersson, 55, has built Sweden’s progress around a strong team ethic rather than any one star individual as the players look to emerge from Ibrahimovic’s shadow. In 2015, Andersson took IFK Norrkoping to an unexpected Swedish top-flight title and was handed the national team job following Euro 2016, where the team finished bottom of their group. Sweden were second behind France in their World Cup qualifying group, beating Les Bleus in Solna to help stay ahead of Holland. Again upsetting the odds, Sweden edged out Italy 1-0 over the two-legged play-off to secure their place in Russia.

World Cup 2018 so far

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Sweden upset the form book to beat Switzerland 1-0 and reach the World Cup quarter-finals (AP)

Sweden opened their Group F campaign with a 1-0 win over South Korea in Nizhny Novgorod – and afterwards the Blagult fans drank the city bars dry. They then looked to be on course for a famous result against holders Germany before Toni Kroos drilled in a dramatic stoppage-time winner following a free-kick. Andersson’s squad regrouped, and impressively defeated Mexico 3-0 in their final group match to progress to the knockout stage. Switzerland, ranked sixth in the world, were expected to come through their last-16 encounter in Saint Petersburg – but once more Sweden refused to be brushed aside with another battling performance.

Previous meetings with England

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David Beckham, left, captained England against Sweden when they met in the 2006 World Cup (Martin Rickett/PA)

The statistics do not make good reading for England, with just one victory over Sweden in the past eight matches. That came during the group stages of Euro 2012, where England ran out 3-2 winners in Kiev. Both of England’s games against Sweden in the World Cup finals have ended in draws, the last coming in 2006 where it finished 2-2 in Cologne, Joe Cole netting a memorable long-range effort and Steven Gerrard also on target before Larsson netted a last-minute equaliser. England and Sweden last played in a friendly on November 14, 2012, at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, where the home side ran out 4-2 winners and Ibrahimovic scored all the goals – his final effort a stunning overhead kick from 25 yards in the closing moments.

Geography

Sweden’s population in 2018, as estimated by the United Nations, stands at 9,983,334.

A nation famous for…

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Swedish band ABBA topped the charts all over the world (PA)

After winning the 1974 Eurovision with Waterloo, Swedish band ABBA would go on to become one of the most successful pop groups of all time, with nine UK number ones and 19 top 10 hits. Meatballs and pickled herring are among the nation’s favourite dishes – while what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon when the football is not on than by heading down to IKEA to pick up some flat-pack furniture? That, though, could well take longer than extra-time and penalties… not to mention being far more stressful.

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