Ibrahimovic believes Sweden can beat England
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AP)
Denmark - Former Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic says the upcoming Soccer World Cup quarter-final against England will involve "a lot of emotions."
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The 36-year-old, who scored a record 62 goals in 116 games for Sweden, retired from international football after a disappointing 2016 European Championship that saw Sweden finish last in its group.
Now playing for LA Galaxy in the United States, Ibrahimovic was touted to return to the national side prior to the tournament but opted to focus on his club career and give the next Swedish generation a chance on the world stage.
"Yes, I think Sweden can become world champions, just like I said before the World Cup started," said Zlatan, as quoted from the Swedish newspaper Expressen website.
"They beat Mexico, which was strong, and then they defeated Switzerland as well. So, they have had success, as nobody thought they would use.”
Zlatan continued: “But they believe in themselves and have a strong sense within the group. Hopefully, they can continue with it.
"Now, it’s England on Saturday and we’re all there with our full support behind them. All Swedes in the world are proud of our national team and they will continue to be proud no matter how it goes."
Sweden held their nerve against a plucky Switzerland on Tuesday earning a 1-0 win while England were taken to dramatic penalty shootout against Colombia, which they win 4-3 courtesy of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
The Three Lions and Sweden clash on Saturday, and Ibrahimovic believes that despite all the emotions that will be involved, the best team that can control their "feelings" will be victorious at the end of the encounter.
"Just to continue what they’ve done in the World Cup so far. They are hard to meet and difficult to score," he said.
"If they can continue, Sweden has a good chance. But now it’s not just about how good you are.
"Now there are a lot of emotions in the picture, because it’s about quarter-finals. The team that can handle their feelings best will have an advantage."
At the end of the mix zone with journalists, Ibrahimovic added: "I am Swedish, and I believe in Sweden against England. Then we’ll see what David Beckham says when I talk to him, (starts laughing)."
Kick-off is at 16:00 (SA time).