July 4, 2018 / 6:46 PM / 17 days ago

Sweden's strength is our unity, says bullish skipper Granqvist

GELENDZHIK, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden have flown under the radar all the way to the quarter-finals where they aim to use their solidity as a unit to put a stop to English dreams of a first World Cup victory since 1966 in Samara on Saturday.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Round of 16 - Sweden vs Switzerland - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - July 3, 2018 Sweden's Andreas Granqvist celebrates after the match REUTERS/Henry Romero

After leading his side through a light workout following their 1-0 Round of 16 victory over Switzerland, captain Andreas Granqvist said his team have no secrets ahead of the clash with England, who beat Colombia 4-3 on penalties on Tuesday.

Sweden players celebrate after the match. REUTERS/Max Rossi

“They have seen that we are a very strong team, we play together as a collective, we defend as a team with the whole team, we attack as a team. We’re really solid, we don’t let the opponent get so many chances,” Granqvist told reporters.

“We know we are good on the set pieces, we know we have good counter-attack football. They have seen our game, they have seen our group stage and how we play and I think they have big respect for us.”

The 33-year-old center back, who has already scored twice from the penalty spot in Russia, does not expect much of a change from the defensive tactics his side have used to get this far.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Round of 16 - Sweden vs Switzerland - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - July 3, 2018 Sweden's Albin Ekdal and Mikael Lustig celebrate victory after the match REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

“I think we have to look at our squad and we have to look at the opponent’s squad. Normally the other team has better players on paper and we let them have the ball in the places we want them to have the ball,” he explained.

The team returned to their Black Sea base at Gelendzhik directly after defeating the Swiss and missed watching the England game on TV, but coach Janne Andersson and his support staff have already begun analyzing Gareth Southgate’s side.

Sweden midfielder Albin Ekdal had a scan on a twisted ankle on Wednesday and Mikael Lustig is suspended for the tie against England but changes in personnel are likely to have little effect on the Swedish game plan.

“If you look at the games we have played, the opponent has had more ball possession than we have but we have created more chances, more dangerous chances,” Granqvist said.

“This is how we play, this is what we need to do, this is our strength, and we also need to see our quality against other strong teams. This is the way for us to have success, and we’re going to continue this way,” he added.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Neil Robinson

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