Pringles Preview: Sweden, England, Croatia and Russia eye semi-final berths

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The knockout stages of the prestigious competition willl continue on Saturday with two games taking place

Saturday is one step closer to seeing who is the best football team on the planet earth. 

The focus of attention will be European sides Russia, England, Croatia and Sweden as they look to advance to the semi-finals. 


Sweden v England 

The first game of the day will feature Sweden and England, who won this competition in 1966 as hosts, after defeating West Germany in the final.

Nicknamed Three Lions, England ended their group stage campaign having recorded two wins and a defeat which came against fellow European side Belgium last week.

The Three Lions, who finished second in their group, needed penalties to overcome a resilient Colombia on Tuesday.

The Round of 16 encounter ended in a 1-1 stalemate after Yerry Mina had cancelled out Harry Kane's opener in stoppage, but England went on to win 4-3 on penalties.

England are averaging 2.25 goals per match and they will look to their star forward Harry Kane, who is the tournament top goalscorer with six goals. 

The England captain has the ability to single-handedly inspire his nation to victory which would see the Three Lions reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

Meanwhile, Sweden, who have never won this tournament, are heading into this match as the underdogs, having secured a narrow victory against Switzerland.

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The Blue-Yellow faced Switzerland in the Round of 16 after finishing at the top of their group having registered two victories and one defeat against 2014 champions Germany.

Emil Forsberg was the hero for Blue-Yellow as he scored the only goal of the match which helped Sweden overcome European side Switzerland 1-0 on Tuesday.

Sweden's key player Andreas Granqvist has been influential for his nation and has ensured that the team keeps three clean sheets in the tournament.

The Blue-Yellow captain has netted twice in the competition and the defender will be keen to lead Sweden, who are averaging 1.5 goals per match, to victory.

England will be seeking vengeance against Sweden as they lost 4-2 to the Blue-Yellow in November 2012 which was the last meeting between the two teams.

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Russia v Croatia 

The second game of the day will be between Croatia and Russia, who have surprised many by reaching the quarter-finals.

Affectionately known as the Golden Eagles, Russia advanced to the Round of 16 where they faced Spain after finishing second in their group having registered two wins and one defeat against Uruguay.

The Golden Eagles stunned the 2010 champions Spain 3-2 on penalties after Russia striker Artem Dzyuba had levelled matters following Sergei Ignashevich's own-goal on Sunday. 

It was the towering centre forward Dzyuba's third goal for the Golden Eagles, who are averaging 2.25 goals at this year's tournament. 

Dzyuba also scored against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the marksman will be hoping to continue his scoring form, and help Russia overcome Croatia.

Croatia celebrate 2018

Meanwhile, Croatia have been one of the most impressive teams at this year's competition as they dominated their group which included South American giants Argentina.

The Blazers eased into the Round of 16 after winning their group having recorded three victories and they locked horns with fellow European side Denmark in the Round of 16.

Their clash with Denmark ended in a 1-1 stalemate with Mathias Jorgensen netting the opening goal, while Mario Mandzukic levelled matters for Croatia, who went on to win 3-2 penalties on Sunday.

Luka Modric, who has been one of the best players in this year's competition, is an important member of the Blazers team, which is averaging 2 goals per match.

The Croatia captain has netted three goals and the influential midfielder will be eager to play an instrumental role in helping his nation defeat Russia.

Russia will be out for revenge when they face Croatia, who thrashed them 3-0 in their last meeting which was in November 2015.