World Cup 2018: England face Sweden for semi-final place in Russia

Supporters of England arrive for the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarter final soccer match between Sweden and England in Samara
2018 Fifa World Cup quarter-final: Sweden v England
Venue: Samara Arena Date: Saturday, 7 July Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button and iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online

Millions of football fans are following the match between England and Sweden as they battle for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

The game - taking place in the Russian city of Samara - kicked off at 15:00 BST and can be followed across the BBC.

England have not reached the last four of the tournament for 28 years and their sole World Cup win came in 1966.

Before the match, manager Gareth Southgate said: "We're improving and want to make history."

England are favourites to reach the last four from what is considered the easier side of the draw, with the winners of the match facing Russia or Croatia - who play later at 19:00 BST.

With the country basking in a heatwave, thousands of fans are watching the game on big screens at events up and down the country; barbecues have been prepared and pub gardens are experiencing bumper business.

The climax of England's World Cup penalty shootout win over Colombia on Tuesday was seen by 23.6 million viewers on ITV.

One England fan preparing a barbecue for the game had a shock this afternoon when his wife went into labour with their first child.

"The due date was nine days ago, but I was hoping she might be able to hold out until tomorrow," said Gaz, who married his wife Amy a year ago.

"I'm still hoping to catch the odd sneaky glance of the match from my phone.

"I wonder if my new daughter will be watching England in the semis with me."

england fans in Devon

1,966% rise in sausage sales

Supermarkets could have seen a 5% uplift in grocery sales and 25% in alcohol as football fans stocked up on beer and barbecue food for the match.

Tesco's the UK's largest retailer has predicted selling 3.5 million sausages this week along with four million burgers and three million punnets of strawberries.

Asda, meanwhile, estimates a 1,966% rise in the sales of sausages, meatballs and barbecues compared with last week.

British Airways says its website has seen a 700% increase in searches for flights to the host nation, Russia.

Bluffer's guide to the match

  • England are in their first World Cup quarter-final for 12 years and are aiming to reach the semi-finals for the first-time since 1990.
  • Sweden, the 1958 runners-up, last reached the quarter-finals in 1994 when they went on to finish third.
  • England are the only side left in their side of the draw who have a won a World Cup before.
  • Tuesday's victory over Colombia was England's first in a World Cup penalty shootout.
  • England have scored nine goals already at this World Cup - the only time they have scored more is in 1966 when they won the tournament.

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The EastEnders cast cheer on England ahead of the match

How the teams shape up

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The last time England played Sweden at a World Cup

Ashley Young, Kyle Walker and Dele Allie will start the game, having overcome minor injuries.

Despite a groin injury, striker Jamie Vardy is fit enough to be named on the bench.

Captain Harry Kane is aiming to become only the second Englishman after Lineker to win the Golden Boot for the World Cup's top scorer. He needs one goal to break Lineker's feat of scoring six times in 1986.

"My target isn't the Golden Boot," Kane told reporters. "The target is to win the tournament. That's always been the target."

Sweden are 24th in Fifa's rankings - 12 places below England - and are without national hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic - who retired from international football two years ago.

But they finished ahead of the Netherlands in qualifying, beat Italy in the subsequent play-offs and topped their group in Russia containing defending champions Germany.

After Sweden's 1-0 win over Switzerland which sealed a spot in the last eight, coach Janne Andersson said: "We're not satisfied with what we've done - we want to win the next match too."

The team had a rude awakening on Saturday when their hotel fire alarm went off first thing in the morning.

Though there have been no suggestions of foul play, it follows an earlier incident in the tournament when police were called after Iran fans tried to stop the Portuguese team from sleeping by making noise outside their hotel.

Head-to-head

Matches 24: England won 8; drawn 9; lost 7.

Harry Kane has scored six goals in the World Cup

Football's coming home?

Expectation levels among England fans were relatively low ahead of the tournament, after a series of previous disappointments including a humiliating knockout defeat by Iceland at Euro 2016.

However, an early exit for defending champions Germany, as well as the shock departure of five-time victors Brazil on Friday, has boosted optimism in the England camp.

In fact, it is the first time in history of the competition that none of Brazil, Germany or Argentina have made the semi-finals.

Former England players including Rio Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton tweeted their support on Saturday morning.

Many supporters have been chanting, singing or simply declaring "it's coming home" in reference to the Three Lions song written for Euro 96 by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner with the band the Lightning Seeds.

Skinner has uploaded a video of himself dancing to the song with his shirt over his head.

Former England captain David Beckham recorded a video in which he tells his followers: "It's coming home."

But the feeling of optimism has not been shared by all.

Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher has insisted, in his own colourful way, that football will not be returning home.

The World Cup match is taking place on a busy sporting afternoon that also includes Wimbledon tennis, qualifying for Formula One's British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the first stage of cycling's Tour de France.

Southgate - leader and unlikely fashion icon

Gareth Southgate and Colombia coach Jose Pekerman console Mateus Uribe after the penalty shootout defeat to England
Southgate and Colombia coach Jose Pekerman console Mateus Uribe after the penalty shootout defeat to England

England manager Southgate has been winning fans with his calm demeanour, sporting behaviour and a nice line in waistcoats.

Retailer Marks & Spencer, which supplies the England team's official World Cup suit, reckons the Southgate effect has seen waistcoat sales rise 35%.

Fans on social media have been sharing polite letters sent to them by Southgate - and the Twitter hashtag #GarethSouthgateWould was trending.

Southgate, 47, has said England must "make the most" of their World Cup opportunity, but warned against under-estimating an "older, more experienced" Sweden.

"You have to enjoy the good moments, but I am a long way from perfect, there are plenty of mistakes we have made while we have been here and we will make moving forward, so I think it is dangerous territory if we get carried away with things," said Southgate.

That has not stopped England fans singing a tribute to the manager to the tune of Atomic Kitten's 2001 hit 'Whole Again':

Looking back on when we first met,

I cannot escape and I cannot forget,

Southgate you're the one, you still turn me on,

You can bring it home again!

Southgate, who famously missed a penalty shootout against Germany in Euro '96, has welcomed the altered song: "It's not as questionable as most of the lyrics that have been sung about me in the past," he quipped.

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