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Sweden coach Andersson looking for team unity to beat England

By Paul Giblin SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- Teamwork and unity are the secrets of Sweden’s success at the 2018 World Cup, Sweden coach Janne Andersson said in his official press conference ahead of Saturday’s quarterfinal against England.

Sweden’s presence in the last eight of the World Cup may surprise some, but people should remember that Andersson’s team finished ahead of the Netherlands in qualifying before then beating Italy in the play-offs, while only a 95th minute goal condemned them to defeat against Germany in their second group match.

"We are a team and we are all happy to be here," said Andersson, who explained that his players have now spent 45 days together.

"It’s incredible how we are as a group.

"Some players are not playing much and they have still made a big contribution to unity and in fostering a good atmosphere," he said.

"I think you could say we are easy to analyze but difficult to beat, we don’t have any major surprises, but we are strong in our beliefs and that makes us hard to beat and the loyalty we have in the squad and our idea of playing really delights me," continued the Swedish boss.

Andersson was asked if Sweden had practised for a possible penalty shootout and he responded that his side had prepared everything.

"I believe in being thorough in all preparations, so we have prepared how to deal with extra time or a penalty shootout: we know who is going to take penalties."

The coach added, "We have played a number of big games this year and we have the same procedure for every game; we have good procedures in place and good habits."

He expected Saturday’s game to be decided by various factors, but highlighted the importance of set pieces, and also explained he had developed his love for the English game during the 1970’s.

"In the 1970’s, growing up with Swedish TV, we watched English football and they only showed one game a week. I was always a big fan of English football.

"I remember watching Kenny Hibbitt’s long shots with Wolves and muddy pitches.

"I grew up with it, it was like my second football nation and it’s a great feeling now to be leading Sweden against them."

"Football is very different now and this is not the England I grew up with, but they still have that fighting spirit," added Andersson.


Happy families and happy football for Sweden captain Granqvist

By Paul Giblin SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- Andres Granqvist is a busy man at the moment: not only is the 33-year Sweden captain putting the finishing touches to preparations for his side’s World Cup quarterfinal against England on Saturday, but he also became a father for the second time in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Granqvist’s wife, Sofie, gave birth to the couple’s second child, although Granqvist was not there for the happy event after she had told him to stay in Russia to help Sweden’s World Cup prospects.

"It’s quite simple, getting a daughter is the most beautiful thing you can get as a human being and for a footballer, it’s a dream to play in the quarterfinal of the World Cup, so I am just trying to enjoy the moment," Granqvist said in a press conference on Thursday.

"It was good timing, I didn’t sleep much last night, my wife did a great job back home and both her and the baby are doing very well," added the Sweden skipper, who also spoke about Saturday’s game and his side’s team spirit.

"Our strength is that we are a collective and we have our own style of play.

"Maybe we are not the best team as individuals, but we are a team, everyone helps and that is what symbolizes us," he noted, adding that Sweden and England have one thing in common.

"We are both very dangerous at set pieces.

"We will have to be very strong in the area to ensure they don’t get the service they want," said Granqvist, who will probably have the job of marking England captain and the World Cup’s leading goalscorer, Harry Kane.

"He’s very skilful.

"Not just at penalties but in everything he does, and we’ll have to work hard to stop him," he cautioned.

The Swede is not the only player to become a father during the current World Cup.

England midfielder Fabian Delph’s wife gave birth to their third child after the group stage.

Unlike Granqvist, Delph made the trip home and was unable to play in England’s last 16 clash with Colombia in order to be at her wife’s side.

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