England's Kieran Trippier says hard work paid off in World Cup win

Kristopher Nichols
July 5, 2018

In one half, England, who played their one final when they won the title in 1966, and Sweden, who lost to Brazil on home soil in the 1958 final, will meet in Samara on Saturday with a last-four clash against Croatia or Russian Federation awaiting the victor.

The truth is though that caution would be best advised for England, whose competitive record against Sweden doesn't make for inspiring reading if you're an English fan (one win in the last eight non-friendly encounters). "I think they have the quality". The World Cup quarter finals are finalized, and if what we have seen so far is anything to go by, few would bet against this tournament producing more upsets. "And then we had to show incredible resilience to come back from such a hammer blow right on the final whistle, really". "It's a special moment for us". Common thinking at the time was it was futile practicing penalties, given the inability to recreate the pressure of the shootout on the training field.

"They are tough", Southgate told ITV about shootouts.

The manner of the England manager has certainly rubbed off on the team and the national side is now one that everyone in the country seems able to get behind. "They've been exciting, young, great energy, playing with a lot of freedom", the new D.C. United player added. "The goalkeeper's very important in that".

Colombia captain Radamel Falcao has blasted the referee, who was previously accused of requesting Cristiano Ronaldo's shirt, after their last-16 defeat to England.

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Gareth Southgate's England are the only former winners in the bottom half of the draw, along with host nation Russia, Croatia and Sweden. "I am proud of the discipline".

No South American sides have won on European soil since a Pele-inspired Brazil 60 years ago, but in a World Cup of shocks and surprises, nothing can be taken for granted. Unfortunately, it's fallen upon us to let them across the water know that. "A couple of times we lost our cool a little bit but generally speaking we kept our nerve".

Brazil superstar Neymar, who has scored twice so far to help set up a quarterfinal meeting with Belgium in Russian Federation, has been heavily criticised for a string of theatrical reactions when clashing with an opponent.

"His attitude is brilliant and he's been brilliant in training and taken it into the game". All these failures, either due to or at the hands of historically non-major nations, hints further at the shrinking gap between big and small in global football, and how a collection of technically gifted players will not always trump a limited but well-coached team.

But that will all go out the window on Thursday, and we should be in for an entertaining match with the tournament's meanest defence up against France's lively attack.

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