Harry Kane will seek to fire England into their first World Cup semi-final for 28 years when they face Sweden on Saturday night in Samara.
A Swedish victory, too, will be historic for neither teams have made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup in over 25 years. Sweden finished third in the 1994 World Cup, having lost the semi-final. And, England reached their last semi-finals in the 1990 edition of the tournament.
With most of the favoured nations knocked out – most recently Brazil – Gareth Southgate expects his team to capitalise on the opportunity to make history in Russia.
But it would be perilous to write Sweden off in the contest, for they are in the midst of a solid campaign, wherein they have kept three clean sheets in four matches.
Head to head
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- Their first encounter was played in Stockholm on 21 May 1923 and won 4-2 by England. The most recent one produced the same result, but in favour of Sweden, and was a friendly match held in Solna on 14 November 2012. Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted all four Swedish goals during that game, the last of which was a spectacular overhead kick from well outside the area.
- This is the first time that the teams have faced each other in the knockout stage of a major competition. In the group round of the Uefa European Championship, the Swedes prevailed 2-1 in 1992, whereas England ran out 3-2 winners in 2012.
- In the Fifa World Cup the pair have fought out two draws. The respective scorelines were 1-1 in 2002 (Sol Campbell and Niclas Alexandersson the scorers), when Gareth Southgate was an unused substitute, and 2-2 in 2006 (goals from Joe Cole, Markus Allback with the 200th goal in World Cup history, Steven Gerrard and a 90th-minute Henrik Larsson equaliser). Swedish tactician Sven Goran Eriksson was in the Three Lions’ dugout for both matches.
- Sweden have won back-to-back World Cup fixtures for the first time since 1958, when they overcame the Soviet Union and Germany FR. The Blagult have only recorded three consecutive victories once, between the 1950 and 1958 editions. The Scandinavians also kept clean sheets in their last two games of this campaign.
- The last time Sweden qualified for the quarter-finals was in 1994, when they went on to outsmart Romania on penalties and reach the last four.
- England return to the quarter-finals of a World Cup after losing a penalty shoot-out to Portugal in 2006.
- Sweden have been involved in just one World Cup match that was decided in extra time, losing to Senegal in the Round of 16 in 2002. By contrast, their only experience of a penalty shoot-out ended in victory over Romania in 1994.
- England boast three wins, one draw (in 1954, before the introduction of penalty shoot-outs) and one defeat in games decided in extra time. Against Colombia the Three Lions finally won a World Cup penalty shoot-out at the fourth time of asking, after losing their first three.
- England have already contested one World Cup fixture on 7 July, losing the Play-Off for Third Place 2-1 in 1990 against Italy.
- Gareth Southgate took to the field against Sweden three times as a player but never beat them, playing in a 2-1 defeat in 1998, a 1-1 draw in 2001 and a 1-0 loss in Gothenburg in 2004. In that last game, Southgate won his 57th and final England cap, replacing Jonathan Woodgate at the start of the second half and wearing the captain’s armband for the final half-hour, after Steven Gerrard was substituted.
Stats courtesy Fifa.com