Sweden and England face-off in what could shape up to be a thrilling quarter-final clash, but the fates of these teams will be decided by crucial battles on the pitch.
The quarterfinals of this World Cup has seen an unbalanced draw, which has made one side quite light compared to the other. England, on paper, are painted as the fortunate side to have a relatively light draw with pundits and experts feeling this is England’s best chance in decades to reach the World Cup Final.
Sweden, on the other hand, will be looking to continue their run going at the tournament and will be looking to overpower England to book a place in the semi-final. Sweden have shown what a cohesive unit they can be in the recent performances, especially as they finished top of their group consisting of Germany and Mexico.
All paper talks will be rendered pointless when these teams meet on the field, and the only talking will be done by the players on the pitch. The game, however, will be won in specific areas of the pitch, as players try to stamp their authority on the play. Here we look at two key battles that could prove decisive in this game.
Harry Kane vs Victor Lindelof
Victor Lindelof had a scare in Sweden’s last game against Switzerland when he was taken off at the break. But, he is fit and ready to face off against England in one of Sweden’s biggest game in over a decade. His job is simple, to keep the defensive lid tight enough for Sweden to register a clean sheet. But in achieving that, he has the threat of Harry Kane in the way.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup’s top scorer with six goals, Harry Kane has one eye on the Golden Boot, while his main priority is to get his side over the line and into the semi-finals of the tournament. It will be his decisiveness in the penalty box or generally front of goal that is likely to make a difference in this game against Sweden.
In the pursuit of a win on the pitch, the battle between Harry Kane and Victor Lindelof will be the one to watch out for. The Swedes aim to remain the cohesive side that they have been so far and restrict the likes of Kane from a sniff at goal, for as long as possible, ideally for the first 90 minutes of the game.
Emil Forsberg vs Kyle Walker
Emil Forsberg has been Sweden’s shining light in attack and has displayed his ability to link up well with fellow midfielders as well as Sweden’s strikers to good use. His fantastic displays from the left side of Sweden’s attack has been the characteristic of his gameplay, as he has done so at club level, which has seen him linked with many top clubs.
It was his solitary goal against Switzerland that ensured Sweden enter the quarterfinal stage and set up a date with England. In his quest to be Sweden’s leading man in attack, he has to get past the shield of the English defence, especially Kyle Walker.
Walker has not been at his best, playing in a somewhat unfamiliar role in England’s three-man central defence. Against Colombia, he did show the maturity and understanding of the game that has developed after playing the many games in the position, and he will likely be ready to face the threat of Forsberg and try to keep a clean sheet for his side.
This battle between two of the stars on the pitch would be the other battle one needs to keep an eye out for as England and Sweden try to get their names among the semifinalists of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.