Pompey fan James Robbins continues his World Cup diary from Russia – and looks forward to this afternoon’s England-Sweden quarter final
IT IS hard to underplay the significance of the Sweden match this afternoon. I can’t think of a time when so many of the so-called powerhouses of football were already knocked out at this stage. Similarly, I can’t recall seeing an England team looking so together. And I believe there is still more from them to come at this tournament.
Yes France and Belgium remain and look strong but they are not teams we’ve historically struggled against like perhaps Brazil, Argentina or Germany, for example.
In saying that, England have had a poor record against the Swedes over the years. We only ended our long non-winning streak against them in 2011, which we followed up with a win in the 2012 Euros. But they last time we played in 2012 they beat us 4-2.
They are a solid team with no star individuals but have already disposed of heavyweights like Holland, Italy and Germany during the tournament and in qualifying. While everyone out in Russia and back home is right to be excited this is no foregone conclusion.
Sweden have shown they are really good on the counter attack, which is our main weakness. It's likely to be a really boring game but I think we will scrape through 1-0. I would not be surprised if it goes to extra-time or even penalties again, though.
But beating Colombia on penalties was a massive monkey to get off our backs. Like everyone, I was totally gutted to see their 93rd minute equaliser, especially when they had hardly threatened and were a total disgrace to football with their conduct.
But winning the shoot-out, particularly when it looked like we were going out, has lifted spirits way beyond what a 1-0 win would have done. That can only be a good thing for us today.
England don’t win on penalties; Germany don’t go out in the group stages and Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain and the rest aren’t normally out by this point. It has been a strange World Cup. Maybe it could be England’s year.
I just hope I can get tickets to the final if we get there!