SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden coach Janne Andersson has full confidence in his team’s straightforward but effective tactics as he prepares his side for their World Cup quarter-final clash with England on Saturday.
Andersson’s men are aiming to reach the last four for the first time since 1994 when they finished third in the United States.
Sweden’s success at this year’s tournament, which saw them eliminate the Netherlands and Italy in qualifying, as well as finish top of a group containing holders Germany in Russia, has been built on defensive organization and clinical counter-attacks.
Sweden, devoid of a freescoring talisman in the wake of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s international retirement, have worked hard on being difficult to breakdown and a major threat from set-pieces.
Andersson says he is unlikely to spring a surprise on England coach Gareth Southgate.
“There was a coach once who said his team was quite easy to analyze but difficult to beat. That is a good description of us,” Andersson told reporters on Friday.
“It shouldn’t be that difficult to get an idea of what we do.
“We are strong in our beliefs and have been from the outset. The players are very loyal to our ideas.”
Captain Andreas Granqvist has embodied this collective philosophy most of all.
The 33-year-old journeyman defender has formed a formidable center back pairing with Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof, as well as scoring twice from the penalty spot in Russia.
“We are a team and we do this together, on and off the pitch and this is behind our success so far,” said Granqvist.
“We might not have the best team on paper or individually, but as a team we are very high achievers and this symbolizes all of us.”
One key area where the quarter-final could be won or lost is on set-pieces, with both teams excelling in this regard so far.
Sweden have scored twice from set plays, while England have scored three, the most at the tournament.
“The set piece situation will be a clear factor – for the first time I think we are coming up against a country that is more or less on par with us in that respect,” warned Andersson.
“That will be a fight to get to the first ball.”
If Sweden manage to defeat England, a team they have only lost to twice in the last 15 meetings, they will face either Russia or Croatia in the semi-final.
Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Christian Radnedge