Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Fans All Swede-Ness and Light; It's Party Time in Cologne Ahead of Final Group Clash

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Fans All Swede-Ness and Light; It's Party Time in Cologne Ahead of Final Group Clash

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD EDWARDS;SHEKHAR BHATIA

TENS of thousands of England and Swedish fans were partying in Cologne today ahead of their big Group B World Cup clash.

Up to 70,000 England fans are expected to gather in the German city for tonight's final group encounter which will determine England's route through the knockout stages.

At least 5,000 Swedes have formed a sea of gold and blue, rubbing shoulders with the red and white of England's army of travelling supporters. Bars, cafes and restaurants throughout the historic city centre were packed solid with fans from both sides.

Flag-waving fans sauntered throught the Cologne's boulevards and piazzas singing their respective songs and exchanging friendly predictions for tonight's game.

The scenes were in stark contrast to last night's violence, which left 16 German police officers injured and led to six arrests.

Riot police remain on standby in case of further trouble and officers remain nervous about a repeat of the fighting and bottle-throwing which marred the so-far overwhelmingly peaceful build up to the game.

The senior officer in charge of policing England's supporters admitted: "This is going to be our most challenging day.

"It is going to be the most difficult period of the tournament."

British police are concerned that both Germany and Poland play their final matches in Group A just hours before England's 8pm encounter with Sweden.

Ecuador play Germany in Berlin and Costa Rica play Poland in Hanover with both matches kicking off at 3pm.

The Germany v Ecuador match will have a direct impact on England's future in the tournament, with the winners of England's Group B playing the runnerup in Germany's Group A in the second round and vice versa.

It is likely to mean tens of thousands of rival supporters drinking heavily and mixing in the centre of Cologne after watching the matches on big screens in the city and at the FC Cologne ground.

"Our German colleagues have been prepared for this day since long before the tournament began" he added.

England fans have been singing anti-German songs and police are aware of the traditional rivalry between the supporters. …

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