Gareth Southgate and the secret behind England's World Cup penalty success

James Rodriguez

England's first ever penalty shootout win in a World Cup secured a quarter-final meeting with Sweden on Saturday afternoon. In total, six Colombia players were booked to England's two. In many ways, the two teams are too similar, but the evolution under Southgate means that England can at least approach the game with more finesse than in the past.

"So far it is good", said Sara Nano.

"Everyone gets anxious when a game goes to penalties, and with the record England have in competitions, it's huge in England that they've managed to win the shootout here.it's great for confidence because of England's history", he said.

It seems to be working out just fine for them, but Sweden still look a little light up front and could struggle to trouble England's backline. In 1994, the year of the finest Swedish run at a World Cup since making the final in 1958, the Swedes squared up with Romania in the quarter-finals having already well exceeded expectations.

Former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger believes one of France, Brazil or England will win the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.

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The Tottenham man didn't make man analysts' lists for the best defenders in the world in advance of the tournament but his performance as the right-sided defender/wing-back in Gareth Southgate's side has earmarked him as one of the most in-form defenders in the entire competition.

They're going to fancy themselves to stymie an England side that might not have the ingenuity to break them down. Walker suffered cramp, while Young left the game with an ankle injury in extra time.

That could have been their fate had they lost their last group game to England, who have been handsomely rewarded for finishing runners-up with - on paper - what appears to be a far-easier route to the final.

However, England were given hope when Matteus Uribe slammed Colombia's third kick onto the bar and after Kieran Trippier had levelled the score at 3-3, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford then produced a stunning save to keep out Carlos Bacca's fifth penalty for the South Americans. Common thinking at the time was it was futile practicing penalties, given the inability to recreate the pressure of the shootout on the training field. The FA hired Pippa Grange, a psychologist who has been tasked with improving the team's "psychological resilience", and they are one of the very few football organisations - be it national teams or domestic clubs - who are alive to the opportunities that analytics offers in the sport.

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