Thursday 20 June 2019

Should England stick or twist with tactics for Sweden clash?

The Three Lions take on Sweden in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

England manager Gareth Southgate,left, celebrates with Jordan Henderson after beating Colombia (Tim Goode/PA)
England manager Gareth Southgate,left, celebrates with Jordan Henderson after beating Colombia (Tim Goode/PA)

By Press Association Sport staff

England take on Sweden in Samara on Saturday looking for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

The Three Lions finally won a World Cup penalty shoot-out as they saw off Colombia to reach the last eight.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a tactical look at what Gareth Southgate can do to ensure a place in the final four for the first time since 1990.

Speed demons

Raheem Sterling has yet to score at the World Cup but his pace could cause problems for Sweden. (Alastair Grant/AP)

Sweden are a well-organised outfit and have a drilled defensive unit, which could cause England some problems.

Southgate’s side has struggled to break down teams with a similar approach – needing an added-time winner to beat Tunisia in their opening game and then only scoring courtesy of a Harry Kane penalty in the meeting with Colombia.

Utilising the pace and movement of the likes of Raheem Sterling, or even Marcus Rashford if the Manchester United man earns a surprise start, would help to cause some problems – as would keeping a fast tempo to proceedings and not allowing Sweden to fall back into their familiar 4-4-2 shape.

A healthy balance

Kane has spearheaded England’s attacking approach as is on course to win the World Cup golden boot. (Victor Caivano/AP)

While Southgate is keen to see his team on the front-foot, Sweden proved how effective they can be against positive teams in their Group F clash with Germany.

While a moment of magic from Toni Kroos won the game for the Germans, they not only struggled to break down the aforementioned Sweden backline but were also caught out by a team who can soak up pressure and then hit on the break.

England have yet to keep a clean-sheet in Russia and, in what is likely to be a closely-fought contest, finding the right balance could be key.

Set-piece specialists

John Stones scored two goals from set-pieces in England’s 6-1 win over Panama. (Tim Goode/PA)

Seven of England’s nine goals so far at this World Cup have come from set-pieces but Sweden’s aerial ability could threaten to nullify this option more than most opponents to date.

Even so, Southgate will be keen to keep the likes of Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young sending accurate balls into the box, especially with officials now punishing any grappling by showing a willingness to point to the penalty spot.

Kane’s prowess from 12 yards has been proven with four penalties converted so far, while having players like Harry Maguire and John Stones up for corners and free-kicks could still prove pivotal.

Facing 4-4-2

Sweden beat Switzerland 1-0 to progress to the quarter-finals. (Martin Meissner/AP)

England have long-been the advocates of the 4-4-2 formation which many now consider to be out-dated.

Sweden will likely stick to the system in Samara, meaning the shapes of both teams will differ considerably.

England must make sure that Jordan Henderson is not left alone in the midfield battle, with the inclusion of Eric Dier always an option if Southgate is overly worried by such an issue.

Press Association

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