England have been backed to win the World Cup by Sweden head coach Janne Andersson.
Gareth Southgate’s men progressed to only their third World Cup semi-final on Saturday as Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored headers to secure a 2-0 win in Samara.
England produced a composed display to frustrate Sweden just days after triumphing on penalties against Colombia and are now preparing for a shot at the final in Moscow this Wednesday.
Janne Andersson’s Sweden side couldn’t muster an answer against England on Saturday
Croatia await at the Luzhniki Stadium, where the Three Lions have been backed to continue their march and progress to the July 15 showpiece and maybe even lift the trophy.
‘Yes, I definitely believe they are (good enough to win the World Cup),’ Sweden boss Andersson said. ‘They’re heavy, forceful, well-organised. I would like to pay tribute to both the team and the coach.
‘It’s a good football side and they don’t give a lot of openings. I believe that they will be perfectly able to go all the way.’
Sweden were a far cry from the side that denied Holland qualification to the World Cup, knocked Italy out of the play-offs and prevented holders Germany making it out of their group.
Gareth Southgate’s men secured safe progression into the World Cup semi-finals
They lacked the resilience displayed in the last-16 defeat of Switzerland, but Andersson said the outcome was through England’s excellence more than anything.
‘I am not sure anything went wrong, as such,’ he said. ‘We were faced with a really good opponent and we didn’t get to peak performance, our personal best level that I’ve talked about before.
‘The margins are quite small in the game. For the first half-an-hour or so we had things under control until they get that corner and they score, 1-0, and that sets us back behind a team playing a five-man defence.
Jordan Pickford made a trio of stunning saves to keep the Swede’s out in Samara on Saturday
The Sweden coach (right) claimed his side were no match for Southgate’s England
‘It’s difficult to create opportunities against them. We did create some opportunities at the start of the second half.’
Marcus Berg saw the first of three Sweden chances denied by England’s super-saving goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as his header was well-stopped by the Everton shot stopper, who got down well to his left before palming the ball away from danger in the first half.
Next up came Viktor Claesson who was unable to finish off a truly wonderful Sweden move that even Southgate’s stubborn defence didn’t have an answer for – a rarity throughout this tournament. But much like the chance not 10 minutes prior, Pickford was there to make another gob smacking save and deny the Swede’s yet again.
Andersson also believes Southgate’s men have what it takes to go all the way in Russia
‘We had three excellent opportunities in the second half and we were unable to score on those attempts,’ Andersson commented. ‘There were very openings generally from the English side. We had to score those of course but we were faced with a good team.
‘England were the best team today. It’s not that something goes wrong always in football. Sometimes your opponent is better.
‘They were better than we were and I have the greatest respect and congratulations to England.’
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.