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Fourth time lucky for England? – Talking points ahead of Sweden semi-final

England and Sweden last met in the third-place play-off match at the 2019 World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)
England and Sweden last met in the third-place play-off match at the 2019 World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)

England face Sweden on Tuesday for a place in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley five days later.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points surrounding the semi-final at Bramall Lane.

Fourth time lucky?

England players appear dejected after their 2-1 semi-final loss to the United States three years ago (John Walton/PA).
England players appear dejected after their 2-1 semi-final loss to the United States three years ago (John Walton/PA).

England have reached this stage at their last three major tournaments – and suffered defeat on each occasion. At the last Euros five years ago in the Netherlands they were beaten 3-0 by the hosts, who – managed by now-Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman – went on to claim the trophy. Either side of that were 2-1 losses to the United States at the 2019 World Cup in France, and to Japan at the 2015 edition in Canada. Breaking that cycle on Tuesday would see England back in a final for the first time since they finished as runners-up at Euro 2009 in Finland.

Same side again?

Through a group campaign that saw the team score 14 goals without reply across three victories, and then for the 2-1 extra-time win over Spain in the quarter-finals, England have maintained the same starting line-up. Substitutes such as Alessia Russo and Ella Toone, who combined for the equaliser against Spain, have done well after coming on – and it may well be that Wiegman wants to once again keep such players as options for making an impact from the bench. It appears all 23 players in her squad will be available for selection.

White on the brink of history

Northern Ireland v England – UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Group A – St Mary’s Stadium
Ellen White is closing in on Wayne Rooney’s record (John Walton/PA)

Tuesday could be a landmark evening personally for Ellen White, who heads into the contest lying just one goal behind England’s all-time record scorer Wayne Rooney. The 33-year-old Manchester City striker boosted her Lionesses-record tally to 52 with two goals in the group stage, a brace in the 8-0 demolition of Norway at the Amex Stadium.

The prospect of Sweden

An indication of how tough England’s challenge might be on Tuesday is the current world rankings, in which they lie eighth – Sweden are Euro 2022’s highest-ranked team, at number two. Their squad features some prominent Women’s Super League names, such as Chelsea skipper Magda Eriksson and Arsenal striker Stina Blackstenius, and they reached a final last summer, claiming silver at the Tokyo Olympics. At this tournament, Peter Gerhardsson’s side topped their group following a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands and victories over Switzerland and Portugal before getting past Belgium 1-0 in the last eight.

Head-to-head

Sweden v Belgium – UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Quarter Final – Leigh Sports Village
Sweden left it late to book their place in the last four (Tim Goode/PA)

The Swedes have the edge over England historically, losing only one of their seven competitive meetings. That was the second leg of the inaugural Euros final in 1984 – Sweden won the subsequent penalty shoot-out to claim the trophy. They also beat them 3-2 after extra-time in the Euro 1987 semi-finals, while the most recent encounter saw them defeat the Lionesses 2-1 in the third-place play-off at the 2019 World Cup.