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Why Sweden are worryingly similar to England’s Euro 2016 tormentors Iceland

We don't mean to alarm you, but England's quarter-final opponents are a lot like another unfancied and undervalued Nordic team we've faced in the not-so-distant past

We’re all pretty over the moon at the moment, aren’t we?

England are in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, having beaten Colombia on penalties.

The boys are playing genuinely decent football, Harry Kane is pretty much the best goal-scorer in the world right now and handsome Gareth Southgate is doing wonders for the popularity of waistcoats.

Love him

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Love him

But much like that Joy Division song you insist on having in the middle of your workout playlist, we’re here to temporarily bring you crashing back down to earth.

Because you see, the Three Lions are set to play plucky Nordic underdogs and perceptually underestimated Sweden on Saturday, and we’re slightly concerned that history could be repeating itself.

Because worryingly, they’re quite a bit like Iceland at Euro 2016.

Nordic underdogs

Iceland secured qualification to their first-ever World Cup on Monday

EPA
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Just the sight of that blue shirt gives us uncomfortable shivers

Prior to Euro 2016, we were all a little bit happy to see Iceland make it to the finals in France.

After all, Vikings are kinda cool and we all secretly enjoy those horrifically staged Instagram snaps of the Blue Lagoon, don’t we?

So naturally, we thought: “Ah, good on them!”

And when England faced them in the round of 16, we were all fairly alright about it.

Iceland celebrate their historic win over England that ended the reign of Roy Hodgson

PA:Press Association
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Historic

Worryingly, the feeling is the same with Sweden at the moment.

Have we forgotten that these guys saw of the likes of Holland and Italy on their way to Russia, while topping Group F ahead of Mexico, South Korea and Germany?

We really shouldn’t underestimate these underdogs.

Big name in midfield

Gylfi Sigurdsson starred for Iceland in remarkable campaign at Euro 2016

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Gylfi Sigurdsson starred for Iceland in remarkable campaign at Euro 2016

When England faced Iceland two years ago, it was a case of “ten fellas with ‘sson’ at the end of their name and Gylfi Sigurdsson.”

The then-Swansea talisman is a big name in England, having frequently been considered one of the best players to grace the Premier League, so naturally he was the only face we really knew much about in their line-up.

Forsberg is Sweden’s new hero since the retirement of Zlatan

AP:Associated Press
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Forsberg is Sweden’s new hero since the retirement of Zlatan

In Sweden’s team, their Sigurdsson-equivalent is undoubtedly Emil Forsberg.

Yes, they’re completely different players, but Forsberg is the star name in Sweden’s team and is often their go-to guy going forward.

They’d certainly be worse off without him.

He scored their winner in the last round against Switzerland and will probably be the guy Southgate is the most concerned about.

Well-organised and difficult to break down

England lost 2-1 to Iceland in the last-16 in France at Euro 2016

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Remember this?

Much like Iceland, Sweden are not exactly blessed with the world’s best players.

But they more than make up for it by playing an old-fashioned and well-organised 4-4-2, and they’ll be particularly frustrating to break down; they’ve kept three clean sheets from their four games in Russia, so far.

Iceland captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson celebrates their historic victory

EPA
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Iceland captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson celebrates their historic victory

Former England manager and actual Swedish person Sven-Goran Eriksson summed it nicely this week, by saying: “Their strikers are defenders when it’s time to defend, and they can defend in their own box as well.

“Sweden will be more or less the same as Iceland in Euro 2016 — they don’t have the best footballers in the world, and none of our players would play in the first team of the biggest clubs in the world.

“But, as a team, the way they work together, they are one of the best.”

They have absolutely no fear

Ugh

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Ugh

At Euro 2016, we figured we’d play the likes of Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Daniel Sturridge and the Icelandic boys would be terrified.

After all, look at all the trophies they’ve won and they accumulative appearances in the Champions League.

But of course, they just thunder-clapped their way through and made a mockery of Roy Hodgson’s boys and our hopeless tactics.

Sweden defied the odds to overcome the Azzurri and seal their spot at Russia 2018

AP:Associated Press
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Sweden have the defied the odds to get to Russia 2018

Even with Harry Kane leading the line for England in Russia this time around, Sweden will be fearless.

Sure, the Spurs forward has scored six goals, but that won’t really impress the likes of bruising centre-back Andreas Granqvist, who’ll be more than ready for the challenge.

Former Swedish midfield Hakan Mild summed up Sweden’s thoughts regarding England this week by saying: “They think they are so good; they’re not,”

“They are spoilt children who earn a lot of money. They don’t have the desperation needed.”

Crikey.

Can this lot overcome the Swedes?

Getty - Contributor
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Can this lot overcome the Swedes?

Now that we’ve got your attention and you’re well and truly shaken up ahead of tomorrow’s big game, we’re sure we’re just being overly paranoid.

After all, it’s coming home, isn’t it?