REPINO, July 6: Enthused by an exciting young squad and a potentially kind draw against Sweden in tomorrow�s quarterfinal, England fans are starting to believe they can end a 52-year wait to win the World Cup.
But the obdurate Scandinavians have a habit of upsetting the odds, particularly against England, having lost just one of eight previous competitive meetings.
Confidence in England is soaring after the team ended a long wait to win a World Cup penalty shootout, squeezing past Colombia in a tense and bad-tempered last-16 tie in Moscow.
�We�d like to bring it home,� said England defender John Stones on Thursday.
�I�d love to win a World Cup, England would love to win a World Cup.
�It�s been a long time since we last won it. We want to make people proud back home.�
England, World Cup winners in 1966, have already won over a public disaffected by an early exit in Brazil four years ago and an embarrassing defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016.
Gareth Southgate�s men have been drawing more viewers for their matches in Russia than May�s royal wedding, with 23.6 million tuning in for the shootout against Colombia.
�It�s great to see the support back home. Everyone�s getting behind us in their thousands,� added the Manchester City player.
�I�m getting videos and pictures from my friends back home watching the game, in the pubs, wherever they are in the country.�
With just a four-day turnaround to facing Sweden in Samara, though, England have little time to replenish their energy. And while some are already making plans for a potential semifinal against hosts Russia or Croatia, Stones warned of complacency against Sweden.
�I think if you say it�s an easy game in a quarterfinal of a World Cup then you are pretty stupid to say that.
�Sometimes they can throw you, these teams. They can go kind of under the radar, but there is no question they are a good team. They wouldn�t be where they are if they weren�t.� � AFP