Why England's World Cup quarter-final opponents Sweden are their bogey team
History suggests England could struggle against Sweden
Last Updated: 05/07/18 12:05pm
England are now favourites not only to beat Sweden in Saturday’s quarter-final but to reach the World Cup final itself from the so-called easier half of the draw. But their record against Sweden serves as a reminder that there is work to do before England look too far ahead.
Between 1968 and 2011, England played 12 matches against Sweden and did not win a single one of them. Even when Roy Hodgson's team did secure a 3-2 victory over the Scandinavian side at Euro 2012, they were beaten 4-2 in a rematch just months later.
In the 20 matches that have been played between the two teams over the past 70 years, seven of them have been won by Sweden, nine have been drawn and only four have been won by England. History suggests this will be a tricky hurdle to overcome.
Here, we pick out the four tournament meetings between the teams to illustrate just how tight it could be when England and Sweden face off in Samara on Saturday…
1992 European Championship - Sweden 2-1 England
After goalless draws with Denmark and France, England had looked on course to top the group and progress to the semi-finals when David Platt gave them an early lead against the tournament hosts at Euro '92. But the dream turned into a nightmare in the second half.
Firstly, Sweden levelled things up through Jan Eriksson and then Tomas Brolin scored a fine winner late on to leave England bottom of their group instead. Graham Taylor found himself facing huge question marks over his management of the team.
The Sun newspaper's response was the famous headline: 'Swedes 2, Turnips 1'. The decision to substitute Gary Lineker just after the hour mark in his final game, leaving him one goal short of Sir Bobby Charlton's then England record of 49 goals, also attracted criticism.
2002 World Cup - England 1-1 Sweden
This was labelled the Group of Death in Japan and South Korea as the European rivals were also paired with much-fancied Argentina and a talented Nigeria side. But both England and Sweden progressed after drawing their opening game one goal apiece.
Sol Campbell headed England in front from a David Beckham corner midway through the first half but Niclas Alexandersson levelled things up just before the hour mark. That is how it remained and though England went on to beat Argentina, Sweden won the group.
That proved significant as it left England - managed by a Swede in Sven Goran Eriksson - in the tougher half of the draw for the knockout stages. They beat Denmark in the round of 16 but lost 2-1 to eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals.
2006 World Cup - England 2-2 Sweden
England went into this game knowing that all they needed was a draw to avoid a last-16 tie with host Germany and while they managed to achieve that feat, Eriksson's team could not get the win that would have ended their 38-year wait for a victory against Sweden.
Joe Cole had put England ahead with an outrageous dipping effort from distance but Marcus Allback equalised early in the second half. Steven Gerrard's header looked to have won it late on but poor defending allowed Henrik Larsson to level things in stoppage time.
The result was marred by a serious injury to star striker Michael Owen in the first minute and though England did find a way past Ecuador in the last-16 tie, they were eliminated once again in the quarter-finals following a penalty shootout defeat to Portugal.
2012 European Championship - Sweden 2-3 England
Sweden's spell over England came to a dramatic end during Euro 2012 as Hodgson's men came from behind to win a see-saw contest in Kiev. It was England's first ever competitive victory over Sweden and put them on the brink of the quarter-finals.
Andy Carroll's booming header gave England the half-time lead but just as in all three of the previous tournament meetings between the sides, Sweden came back after the interval. Glen Johnson's own goal levelled the scores and Olof Mellberg gave Sweden the lead.
But Theo Walcott came off the bench to make it two apiece and with 12 minutes remaining, Danny Welbeck's smart finish secured the points for England. They went on to top the group but were eliminated on penalties by Italy in an absorbing quarter-final.