(Reuters) - Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson believes England may have seriously miscalculated if they think they have gained a smoother World Cup passage by finishing runners-up in their group.
Some believe losing to Belgium in their last Group G game could help England but Eriksson said Gareth Southgate’s side had more chance of beating Brazil on the other side of the draw than Sweden, whom they could face in the quarter-finals if they beat Colombia in the round of 16.
“I’m a little surprised because everybody seems to be happy in England, thinking they are now on the right side of the World Cup draw because they’ve avoided the half with Brazil,” said the Swede, who believes his countrymen will see off Switzerland to set up the showdown with England.
“In the last 30 years, how many times have England beaten Sweden? Not often – twice.
“It would be easier for England to beat Brazil than to beat Sweden in my opinion, Sweden today are a very hard team to break down,” Eriksson added.
“Their strikers are defenders when it’s time to defend and they can defend in their own box as well,” said Eriksson, who was speaking to bookmaker Paddy Power (news.paddypower.com).
“During my time with England we met them four times. We lost once, and the others were a draw and, going back before that, Sweden have beaten England in big games.”
But the 70-year-old Eriksson, who took England to World Cup quarter-finals in 2002 and 2006, believes his former side will outscore Colombia in Moscow on Tuesday, particularly if they play Marcus Rashford instead of Raheem Sterling alongside five-goal Harry Kane up front.
“I would expect England to beat Colombia. They can do it in 90 minutes, no need for penalties, but the key is to defend well,” he said.
“Don’t give Colombia chances because they have players like Juan Cuadrado that can beat players one-on-one. Don’t give them that chance,” said Eriksson, who also managed Mexico and Ivory Coast in a globe-trotting career.
“If England defend well, they will win – because, with the players England have up front, they will score.”
Rashford played in the 1-0 loss to Belgium but was a substitute in England’s first two games when Sterling started.
“Rashford showed yesterday that he can come in and make a difference to the team with his speed and technique, and he is a goalscorer as well,” Eriksson said.
Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond