Russia 2018 England have shown why we can win this World Cup

No Sterling or Alli in your Sweden XI

I watched them beat Switzerland in their last-16 tie on Tuesday, and I think England are going to find it difficult against them again this weekend.

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It will be hard for England to break them down, but what gives me confidence that we will beat them is we know what we will get from England too.

The best teams do not always come out on top, but it is the ones with togetherness and belief that go on and achieve things at a tournament like this, and England have definitely shown their mettle there.

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They play in a very rigid 4-4-2 shape and we know exactly what to expect from them.

They overcame every setback they faced against the South Americans and everyone is so proud of them, especially because all the previous shootout failures we have had made things even harder.

Thats the feeling I have now, and that is what the players will be thinking too.

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If you had offered Southgate a quarter-final tie against Sweden before the World Cup started, I am sure he would have snapped your hand off, but we should take nothing for granted.

England are probably not the most talented team at this World Cup but we showed against Colombia why we have now got a great chance of winning it.

I am proud of what they have done so far in Russia, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do next.

We have won a knockout game for the first time since 2006, and also won our first ever World Cup penalty shootout.

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When they take a step back, they will realise they are in the quarter-finals of a World Cup, which is just enormous.

You go into any tournament with expectations but they grow as you progress and, the further you get, the more you start thinking something really special could happen here.

They should go with the flow and feed off the excitement. These are good times for everyone – goodness me, we have had so many disappointments down the years, so why shouldnt they all enjoy it?

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The managers job is to bring everyone back to earth before the Sweden game, but at the same time he will not want to kill the mood.

As a player you feel every emotion when you go through a shootout, but if you win the overwhelming one is of huge relief.

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Sweden are nothing spectacular, with no superstars in their side since Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from international football, but they are very solid and have kept three clean sheets in their four games in Russia.

But, whatever happens in Samara on Saturday, this tournament has already been a successful one from Englands point of view.

It is brilliant to be at this stage of the World Cup and talking about the positives of an England performance and victory, rather than discussing the reasons for another early exit at a major finals.

Of course they have got to temper it a bit and not get too carried away like the supporters might, but without a doubt, as a team they will be thinking we can do this.

What next? Well, anything is possible, but I am still reluctant to think beyond our quarter-final with Sweden, because this World Cup has been so ridiculously unpredictable until now.

There were a lot of unknowns about Southgates side going into this tournament, and we did not know how they would deal with different situations.

As we saw on what was a memorable night for Gareth Southgates side in Moscow on Tuesday, the difference between success and failure in football can come down to extremely fine margins.

When you win and come through it as a team, it makes the bond between you even stronger. That will help England even more in the next couple of days.

But they had cool, calm heads in the face of the provocation they faced from Colombia, and that will help them deal with this kind of pressure too.

We are all buzzing here in Moscow but you can tell from the pictures, videos, texts and phone calls that things are going absolutely berserk back in England.

What we might lack in ability, we make up for with a superb team spirit and enormous character, and it is amazing how far that can take you.

There have probably been more gifted England squads at World Cups in recent years but, in terms of a unit, we might not have had a better group of players than this one.

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The players will have seen that too. During Euro 96, we realised collectively and individually what our success meant to the whole country and it will be the same with Southgate and his squad now.

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With just one win in our past eight competitive meetings – a 3-2 victory in the group stage at Euro 2012 – we do not have a great record against them.

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The players will be feeling the euphoria back home too, which reminds me of Euro 96 with the way it has built and built.

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For England to come back and rally in extra time and then do what they did in the shootout was pretty special.

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Thats part of what makes this team different – England are young, vibrant and exciting and have got a great attitude.

Those are already real achievements for Gareths young side to take away from Russia, but now the fans want more, and I know the England players will be the same.

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Now we do, after the last-gasp win over Tunisia in our opening group game, and especially the way we got past Colombia after conceding a late equaliser.

I have been there myself, and that walk to the penalty spot from the halfway line is a very long one when it is your turn. You are so focused on not letting everyone else in the team down.

Russia 2018 England have shown why we can win this World Cup

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