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Are You Backing England To Make First World Cup Semi Final Since 1990?

Are You Backing England To Make First World Cup Semi Final Since 1990?
Thursday,July 5,2018

After winning their first ever penalty shootout at a World Cup, England are just a game away from playing in their first semi-final for 28 years. Gareth Southgate’s men put the country through it against Colombia, with Yerry Mina’s last minute equaliser sending the game into extra time then penalties, where the Three Lions finally succeeded, leading to thoughts that perhaps football really is coming home.


Before getting too carried away, Sweden await in what will be a tough game against a stubborn side who have only conceded twice so far at the World Cup. England don’t have a good record against Sweden in recent times, winning just two of the previous 10 meetings between the sides, while both World Cup encounters have ended in a draw.


Whether your backing England to make it to the semi-final stage for the first time in 22 years and first at the World Cup since 1990, or predicting the Three Lions will leave the nation heart broken once again, you can turn those predictions into some tidy cash at i-pools. We’re running a daily Fantasy 5-A-Side for each day of the World Cup, including Saturday’s action, with five players to pick - a maximum of two per country - and if they scoop you the most points, you’ll take home the biggest share of the minimum £100 guaranteed.


Our big pool however, is the Sweden v England Match Pool, where you must answer seven questions on the key action, including the match result, anytime scorer, how many goals will be scored, time of the first goal and more. Each multiple choice question is worth 20 points, multiplied by the figure in brackets, for example if you pick England to win and they do, you’ll score double points at x2. The nearest the wins is worth 25 points if you correctly predict when the first goal will be scored. There’s £200 guaranteed in the £2 pool, while if you back your knowledge, why not enter for £1 more, get all seven questions spot on to win the Progressive Jackpot which stands at £7,300!


Can England make most of golden opportunity?


While the Swedes will prove tough opposition as any side will at this stage of a World Cup, you can’t help but feel this is England’s best chance for a generation to get to the final of a major tournament. With Croatia or Russia waiting in the semi-finals, the Three Lions would have avoided the likes of Belgium, Brazil and France en route and when’s the next time we’ll see a quarter-finals without Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina and Holland?!


While conceding in the last minute against Colombia was a big disappointment, in some ways winning on penalties is a better outcome for Southgate’s men, as they can finally lay that ghost to rest and will surely be more confident if it came to spot kicks once more, not that any of us could take that again!


The Colombia game was a tetchy affair, given the tactics of the South American’s who were keen to make the most of any slight touch on them but England didn’t rise to it which is to their credit.


The likes of Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling failed to have much of an impact on the game, which leaves Southgate with some tough decisions to make ahead of Saturday’s match. Does he go for Marcus Rashford up front, who will bring much needed energy and willingness to run, instead of Sterling who doesn’t look as comfortable playing in a front two, given his poor scoring record for England? Dele Alli hasn’t been fully fit for most of the World Cup, so will Ruben Loftus Cheek get the nod after impressing in the two games he’s played?


In terms of the system, Southgate seems to have got it spot on with the players he’s got, even if Kyle Walker still looks slightly suspect at centre half. Obviously Harry Kane will be crucial, who ran himself into the ground on Tuesday. At times you would have to say he was too deep, due to his willingness to be here, there and everywhere but you can’t argue with six goals in three games to put himself in pole position for the golden boot.


While Sweden are a team without any superstars, the fact they’ve qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time since 1994, shows what a solid outfit they are. They don’t concede many, with the only goals they’ve let in coming against Germany, and play as a team with everyone knowing their role.


The Swedes operate in a traditional 4-4-2 system, with captain Andreas Granqvist, who has chipped in with two penalties, and Victor Lindelof standing out at the heart of defence. Former Birmingham, Sunderland and Hull midfielder Seb Larsson has impressed and returns from suspension, while winger Emil Forsberg, who scored the winner against Switzerland, is their biggest threat. While not prolific, Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen are a handful up front and have used all their experience to frustrate defenders and will provide England’s centre backs with a physical battle on Saturday.


Prediction: The way Sweden set up will be tough to break down and England find it tougher against this type of opposition, as Iceland proved in Euro 2016. But the way this England side have played so far at the World Cup, and the confidence taken from Tuesday’s win, added with how the whole country has got behind them, I don’t think their journey is ready to end just yet.


In terms of our Match Pool, i’m going to go with an England win at x2, two or fewer goals to be scored at x1 - we’ll all happily take a 1-0 - and who else but Harry Kane to score at anytime and keep the Three Lions’ hopes of a first World Cup win since 1966 alive.


More importantly though, what do you think? Get your predictions in here!  


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