Belfast Telegraph

Key battles as England and Sweden vie for place in World Cup semi-finals

The men who could decide England’s World Cup destiny.

England face Sweden in Samara on Saturday afternoon with a place in the World Cup semi-finals at stake.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the key battles as Gareth Southgate’s men attempt to keep their challenge on track.

Andreas Granqvist v Harry Kane

Sweden skipper Andreas Granqvist has been a rock at the back for his team, who have conceded just two goals in their first four matches at the finals, and represents a major obstacle in England’s path. However, Harry Kane turned in a superb individual display as he took his tally for the tournament to six goals from the penalty spot against Colombia and if he gets the better of Granqvist, that could go a long way towards shaping the result.

Mikael Lustig v Ashley Young

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Mikael Lustig is a threat going forward (Martin Meissner/AP)

Celtic full-back Mikael Lustig is not only a combative defender, but provides a significant supply line from the right as he uses his pace and ability to cross the ball to good effect. Operating as a wing-back in Southgate’s preferred system, Manchester United’s Ashley Young has been charged with the task of not only helping out defensively on the left, but getting forward to use his winger’s instincts in attack, and the onus will be on both to drive the other in the opposite direction to where they want to be.

Marcus Berg v John Stones

Posted by Manchester City on Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Having emerged from the sizeable shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Berg scored eight goals in qualifying, but is yet to register in Russia for a team who have created few clear-cut chances. However, the physical frontman can make a nuisance of himself and Manchester City defender John Stones will need to maintain his fine run of form to keep him quiet as he attempts to bring Ola Toivonen and the Swedish midfield into play.

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