England face Sweden for semi-final place in Russia

England face Sweden for semi-final place in Russia

England is set to come to a standstill on Saturday as the national team faces Sweden for a place in the World Cup semi-finals, according to a BBC News report.

With the country basking in a heatwave, millions of fans will follow the match in Russia across the BBC at 15:00 BST.

England have not reached the last four of the tournament for 28 years and their sole triumph came in 1966. 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 in Samara facing Russia or Croatia - who play at 19:00 - on Wednesday.

Barbecues are being prepared, pubs are set for bumper business, and thousands of fans will watch the game on big screens at events up and down the country.

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

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.

England could be without striker Jamie Vardy who has a groin injury, but are hoping that left-back Ashley Young recovers from an ankle knock and midfielder Dele Alli's thigh injury is not a major problem.

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.

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 the group in Russia containing defending champions Germany.

After Sweden's 2-0 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."

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

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.

The team, rated 16-1 chances by bookmakers before the World Cup, were down to 4-1 joint second favourites after beating Colombia on penalties to reach the quarter-finals.

Early exits for defending champions Germany, plus Argentina and Spain, and England's performances - including their record World Cup win, 6-1 against Panama - have boosted optimism.

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.

The World Cup match takes 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.

While the rest of the country grinds to a halt, some are going to be caught in a clash with the country's biggest game in years - with weddings, births, work and cricket matches among reasons people will miss out.

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 per cent.

Fans have been sharing on social media polite letters sent to them by Southgate and the Twitter hashtag #GarethSouthgateWould was trending as supporters dreamed up acts of kindness they believe the manager might perform.

Tom Duggan wrote a consoling letter to Southgate following his penalty shootout miss against Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

Southgate, then an Aston Villa player, responded with a letter and signed photograph, writing: "I just wanted to thank you for your kind words which were a great help to me during a difficult time. Your support is greatly appreciated."

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. (UNI)