Sweden’s gameplan to overcome England is unlikely to include any surprises. They will sit deep, take up their extremely compact and organised shape, offering Gareth Southgate’s men possession but precious few gaps in which to make it count.
At the heart of that approach will be 33-year-old central defender Andreas Granqvist, who will likely partner Victor Lindelof, who did not set the world alight in his debut season at Manchester United, but looks much more comfortable in national team colours.
The centre-half has caught the eye by slotting home two cool penalties in the group stages, but is also a crucial component in a defence that has been the bedrock for victories over France, Italy and Holland in recent memory, as well as the outstanding rearguard action in the last-gasp defeat to Germany last month.
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He is adept on the ball, boasting an impressive pass accuracy for an ageing defender who plays in a team who do not build from the back and has made a staggering six clearances per game in Russia as the Swedes have dropped deep and invited balls into the box.
However, England’s system allows Raheem Sterling to start high and central and dart wide and deep, with Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard punching forward into the gaps created.
That is why the Manchester City man has remained in the team, and Granqvist’s ageing legs mean that if Sterling can drag him out of possession, England should get some joy.
That movement is one of the main reasons Sterling is in the team and while England might not get tonnes of opportunities to isolate or expose Granqvist, the ones they do fashion should prove pivotal.
He is still a talismanic figure for the Swedes and England cannot afford to give away a braindead penalty like Kyle Walker did against Colombia – he will likely calmly slot home – but he can be exposed by Sterling’s speed.