Sweden captain Granqvist delays meeting newborn daughter in World Cup bid

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.”

Republic of Ireland v Sweden – UEFA Euro 2016 – Group E – Stade de France
Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist is out to stop Harry Kane (John Walton/PA)

A place in the last four also figures high on the Swede’s hit list, with the Helsingborgs 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.”

Granqvist and Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof will become the latest pair to try their hand at shackling tournament top-scorer Harry Kane on Saturday.

Kane has netted six times in three games so far, including three from the penalty spot, and will be hungry for more at Samara Arena.

“We have been very strong on set-pieces but this is one of England’s strengths as well and they have Harry Kane, who is really dangerous in the penalty box,” said the Swede.

Sweden – FIFA World Cup 2018 – Media Activity – 6th July
Sweden manager Janne Andersson (right) with Andreas Granqvist at their pre-match press conference (Aaron Chown/PA)

“We need to be very strong in the box and make sure they don’t get the service they need. He is incredibly skilled, not just on penalties, but as a striker – he is good at everything.

“It’s going to be a very tough match against him but we’re going to do everything to stop him.”

Sweden expect to have Albin Ekdal and Jimmy Durmaz available after injury, with former Birmingham, Sunderland and Hull midfielder Seb Larsson back from suspension.

Celtic’s Mikael Lustig will be missing after collecting two yellow cards.

Celtic defender Lustig is suspended for the match in Samara
Celtic defender Lustig is suspended for the match in Samara (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Manager Janne Andersson was steeped in English football from a young age but sees a new style in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

“I grew up in the 70s and we used to follow English football. It was only one televised match a week in those days,” he said.

“I was always a huge fan of English football, I can remember watching Kenny Hibbitt’s Wolves and the muddy pitches.

“I grew up with this and England was my second nation. It’s a wonderful feeling to face them as head coach of the Swedish team.

“But football has developed a great deal. What they still have is the heart and the spirit of fighting. I have always appreciated that but it’s not the England I grew up watching.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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