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Sports

England-Sweden - who will make the World Cup history books?

media Swedish fans during their match against Switzerland this week REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

England boss Gareth Southgate urged his players to seize the chance as they prepared to face Sweden in Saturday's 2018 World Cup quarter-final.

None of the England squad are old enough to remember the hysteria that gripped the nation when the national football team last reached the World Cup semi-final in 1990.

The Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist had just turned nine when Sweden last graced the last four.

Both sides have a chance in Samara on Saturday to write history for a generation when they play their World Cup quarter-final. It is an opportunity the England boss Gareth Southgate has urged his players to seize.

"We came into this tournament as the least experienced team. We were one of the youngest teams in it," he said. "But we said that we're an improving side who want to make our own history.

"We've already had our first knockout win in 12 years, our first win in a penalty shootout in a World Cup for England, the highest number of goals scored in an individual game," added Southgate. "We want to keep making that history."

Southgate has told his players not to underestimate the Swedes. They came second to France in a qualifying group that included the Netherlands and, in the play-offs for a place in Russia, Sweden beat Italy over two legs.

Andersson confident

Sweden boss Janne Andersson, an avowed devotee of English football said his side had nothing to fear after winning their group which included Mexico, Germany and South Korea.

"I think there was a coach who once said about their team that they're quite easy to analyse but quite difficult to beat. I think that's a right description for us," Andersson said.

"It shouldn't be that difficult to get an idea of what we do.”

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio branded the Swedish style of football untalented. But Andersson was unrepentant about the simple tactics.

"The surprise is probably that we're terribly consistent," he added. "Whether or not you take us seriously and how they perceive it, that's very difficult for me to say.

"We're really strong in our beliefs and we really have been from the outset."

The winner of the match will play either Croatia or Russia in Moscow on Wednesday. Sweden will go into the game with the edge. They have lost to England once in eight competitive meetings - a 3-2 defeat during the group stages at Euro 2012. Anderson, though, dismissed history.

"We're a completely different squad and so are they, so anything that went before is not relevant."

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