Following its first-ever penalty shootout victory at the World Cup in the Round of 16 against Colombia, England punched its ticket to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. Waiting for them is a very tough, very disciplined Sweden side that poses a different kind of threat than any side The Three Lions have faced so far. England is the largest favorite in quarterfinals moneyline markets at -115 but the Swedes shouldn’t necessarily be taken so lightly.
Elsewhere on the oddsboard for Saturday’s early matchup, Sweden is +375 with the draw +235 in moneyline markets. The total is set at 2 with OVER -105 and UNDER -115 while England is the half-goal fave in spread markets at -120 and Sweden at EVEN money as half-goal dogs.
Manager Gareth Southgate has a few injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s matchup with Kyle Walker, Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Ashley Young all dealing with knocks. Vardy’s injury prevented him from taking a penalty against Colombia as he apparently needed an injection following extra time.
While Vardy and Young appear to be the biggest doubts, there is some quality on the bench still. Danny Rose could slide in for Young while Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Marcus Rashford could deputize for Alli, who wasn’t particularly strong against Colombia. If Walker misses out, it could be Eric Dier who slots in on the right of the back three. In short, Southgate has options.
Still, you’ll want to pay attention to England injury news in the coming days to see what sort of juggling Southgate will need to do.
For the Swedes, Mikael Lustig will miss out due to yellows, but otherwise, manager Janne Andersson will have a full side to choose from on Saturday.
Sweden’s 4-4-2 Could be Problematic
If you haven’t been paying attention, Sweden has been one of the most disciplined and well-organized sides at the 2018 World Cup and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that they have reached this point.
Sweden has a game plan and has used it to great success. The Swedes play a 4-4-2 formation with those dual banks of four essentially defending full-stop and hoping to strike on the counter, which was the fashion with which they took a 1-0 lead against Germany on Matchday 2.
They had just 32.7 percent of the ball in their Round of 16 win vs Switzerland. They had 33.5 percent of the ball in a 3-0 defeat of Mexico on Matchday 3. The Swedes don’t need the ball to beat you. They are happy to sit back and absorb pressure and possession and that’s exactly what they’ll do vs England.
In four matches in Russia, Sweden has kept three clean sheets and has conceded twice, both against Germany, and one of those was a stunner from Toni Kroos.
Furthermore, England has just two wins in the last 15 meetings against Sweden with eight draws and five losses thrown in for good measure. Those two wins came in 2011 and 2012, with the latter at Euro 2012.
The win over Colombia was big, especially with it coming in penalties, but Sweden cannot be overlooked. This is a very, very tricky challenge for England.
Harry Kane: Still Scoring When He Wants
With his six goals leading the 2018 World Cup entering the quarterfinals, Harry Kane is odds-on to win the Golden Boot and is currently being offered at -350 at online shop Sportsbook. Half of his goals have come from the spot and one fortunately ricocheted off of him, but the guy just has a knack for finding the scoresheet.
The penalty against Colombia was his 19th goal in just his 27th cap – a phenomenal rate no matter how you slice it.
If England is to break down this formidable Swedish side, Kane will have to get on the scoresheet and be the one to force the issue. Sweden will sit back and give up shots. The Swedes faced 18 from Germany, 20 from Mexico and 18 from Switzerland. England will fire shots but it will come down to that small glimmer of hope and Kane must be the one to (again) step up for England.
Kane to score anytime is being offered at +105 and he is +275 to be the first goalscorer. As we’ve seen throughout the World Cup, backing Kane is always a great idea.
Against this stingy Sweden side, though? That’s a tougher proposition.