Sweden v England and Russia v Croatia: Who will win? (pre-match analysis)
July 7, 2018 07:00 AM NPT
Sweden v England
England and Sweden will not need to be told about the significance of their quarter-final in Samara on 7 July. No matter which team advances, it will be hugely significant due to the fact neither side has made it that far at a FIFA World Cup™ for almost a quarter of a century.
For Sweden, if they advance to the semi-finals, it would be the first time since USA 1994, when they finished in third place. As for England, a last-four appearance in Russia would be their first since Italy 1990, when they finished fourth.
Sweden are coming off the back of a resilient 1-0 victory over Switzerland thanks to Emil Forsberg's deflected goal. The Three Lions were able to overcome the mental hurdle of conceding a stoppage-time equaliser and defeated Colombia 4-3 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time, to win the nation's first World Cup finals shootout at the fourth attempt.
Third quarter-final fixture takes place on 7 July in Samara
England's Kane leads adidas Golden Boot race with six goals
Sweden: Robin Olsen; Emil Krafth, Victor Lindelöf, Andreas Granqvist, Ludwig Augustinsson; Viktor Claesson, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg; Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen
England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Dele, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane
Russia v Croatia
Russia meet Croatia on Saturday in the last match to be played in Sochi at this year's FIFA World Cup™. Fisht Stadium has already witnessed some of the most intense and spectacular action of Russia 2018, and the local fans will be hoping to bid a fond farewell to the venue by seeing the hosts advance to the semi-finals.
Both teams came through tough battles in the Round of 16, in matches held only a few hours apart. Despite enjoying precious little of the ball against Spain, the Russians fought tooth and nail to protect their goal and eventually prevailed in a penalty shootout.
The Croatians were also taken to the wire by Denmark. Following a frenetic start during which both teams scored in the first five minutes, Zlatko Dalic's men were forced to endure a prolonged test of their nerves as the match went into extra time before ultimately prevailing after spot kicks.
It remains to be seen which of the two teams recovers from their emotional exertions quickest. The Russians will be looking to draw on every ounce of support that their fervent fans can muster in order to overcome Croatia's individual and collective talent.
Both came through Round of 16 via penalty shootouts
Croats out to end curse against World Cup hosts
Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudryashov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba
Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic