Sweden vs England - Sweden captain Granqvist delays meeting newborn daughter

Posted Saturday, July 07, 2018 by PA

Sweden vs England - Sweden captain Granqvist delays meeting newborn daughter

Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist is happy to delay meeting his newborn daughter if it means extending his World Cup dream at England’s expense.

Granqvist’s wife Sophie gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Mika, overnight on Friday while the veteran defender continued preparations for his side’s quarter-final in Samara.

England midfielder Fabian Delph missed the last-16 victory against Colombia to be there for the arrival of his third child but Granqvist was under instruction from Sophie not to leave his team-mates.

“It was good timing. I didn’t sleep very much last night, so I’m glad that it’s happened now,” the 33-year-old told a pre-match press conference.

“My wife did a wonderful job back home. Everything went well. Both baby, my daughter, and wife are doing really well.”

“It’s quite simple, getting a daughter is the most beautiful thing you can get.”

A place in the last four also figures high on the Swede’s hit list, with the Helsingborg centre-half admitting: “It’s a dream for every football player to play a quarter-final in the World Cup. I’m raring to go.”

For England, Gareth Southgate thinks Dele Alli could be the key unlocking the game – provided he has the confidence to express himself.

Alli began the tournament with a sparky first-half performance in the opening fixture against Tunisia but limped off with a thigh injury that kept him on the sidelines for the remainder of the group phase.

The Tottenham playmaker returned to the starting XI to face Colombia only to find himself pushed deeper than he might like in a frenetic encounter and was once again struggling for fitness by the time he made way in the second half.

Now, with the Three Lions chasing a first appearance in the final four since 1990, Southgate believes the 22-year-old is ready to catch fire.

“I thought his performance against Tunisia was as good as he’s had since I’ve been England manager,” said Southgate. “He’s at his best making those forward runs and really threatening the opponents with those runs from midfield.

“Maybe we need to encourage him a little bit more to get into those areas where I think his strengths lie and where he can have the biggest impact on the game.

“That’s something we’ve got to think about tactically. We do want to create more clear chances and I think we can create more.”

Alli’s fitness does not appear to be a concern, with the only lingering doubts concerning striker Jamie Vardy’s groin complaint.

Vardy would be kept out of the starting XI in any case by Harry Kane and England’s captain hopes the squad’s close bond, which was in evidence in the penalty shootout win over Colombia, can carry them further.

“I spoke before the tournament about the togetherness, but we always wanted to show on the pitch that we can do that,” he said.

“We have done that so far and that’s just made us even stronger.

“I look at them like my brothers and I know they look at me the same. We’d do anything for each other. That’s what we’ve got to do for the rest of the tournament.”

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