Gareth Southgate says England must “make the most” of their World Cup opportunity in Russia, starting with Saturday’s quarter-final against an “older, more experienced” Sweden.
The match in Samara is England’s first quarter-final appearance since 2006.
A victory would earn England a semi-final meeting with Russia or Croatia.
“It’s a great opportunity, and although our team will be individually better in two years, we might not have this opportunity again,” said Southgate.
England beat Colombia on penalties in the last 16 to record a first knockout stage win at a major tournament since 2006 with only their second penalty shootout win in eight attempts.
Victory over Sweden would hand England a first semi-final since 1990.
Sweden, though, have impressed in the last 12 months – finishing ahead of the Netherlands in qualifying, beating Italy in the subsequent play-offs and qualifying from the group in Russia ahead of defending champions Germany.
“We have huge respect for Sweden. They are a team that I think in the past have been underestimated – we won’t make that mistake,” added manager Southgate.
“Our players come from the same background as their players. We shouldn’t get carried away with ourselves being better than Sweden. They are older, more experienced, and have a better tournament record than us.”
‘Not the time to get carried away’
England have only beaten Sweden in two of their 15 meetings, including draws at the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.
Their most recent meeting came in a friendly in November 2012 as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored all four goals in a 4-2 victory for the hosts in Stockholm.
“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.
Southgate has been praised for the atmosphere he has created in the camp as well as his meticulous preparations for each game.
“The key here is to do as good a job as we can and I am proud of the way the team are playing,” added Southgate.
“We are being successful as we have a really good group of players who are hungry, who are taking ideas on board.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/44726669