England dreaming but Croatia set to provide biggest SWC test

11 July, 2018, 05:41 | Author: Ellis Copeland
  • 1966 England team

Southgate added: "I think Raheem has been fundamental to the way that we have played - his movement, the positions he takes up, his pressing of the ball, his work-rate for the team, the winning of free kicks and corners, his speed to stretch teams".

Although with a potential World Cup final on the line, you would expect the side which is crammed with talent to step up for the biggest game in the last 20 years for Croatia.

Henderson said of England's semi-final opponents: "They have got some fantastic players".

The fact that Croatia have had to play so much football could perhaps give England an edge, all the more so given the injury problems faced by Dalic.

England forward Harry Kane, who tops the World Cup scorers' list in Russian Federation with six goals, is level with former striker Gary Lineker for most goals scored by an England player at one World Cup.

The Tottenham star will certainly be the focal point of England's attack once again and, after a quiet game in the quarter-final win over Sweden, will be determined to get back on track. However, their two knockout-stage games have gone to penalties. Skipper Harry Kane is at the top of the race for Golden Boot with six goals.

"It's a massive game for us, we all know that, but there's no need to make it bigger than what it already is".

England and Croatia have set up an unexpected semifinal clash.

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The Three Lions are also the second-highest scorers at the World Cup with 11 goals.

- England has not beaten two European nations in a single World Cup since 1982, when it beat Czechoslovakia and France.

England needed penalties to beat Colombia in the Round of 16, but eased into the last four with a trouble-free 2-0 victory over Sweden. After winning Group D, Croatia beat Denmark and Russian Federation in penalty kicks to get to this point, while England knocked out Colombia in the round of 16 in penalties before taking down Sweden in the quarterfinals.

The mission? To support England's bid to win a first World Cup since 1966. "We've talked about how important it is to have that spirit".

Strong, mobile, indefatigable and good in the air, Mandzukic looks to make life as hard as possible for the defence, stretching play to allow the likes of Modric the space they need to get into the danger zone around the box.

None more so than Luka Modric who, on this site on Monday, was named by former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic as the player of the tournament so far.

Monaco goalkeeper Subasic saved three penalties in Croatia's shootout win over Denmark in the round of 16, and another in the quarter-finals as the Vatreni dramatically ousted hosts Russian Federation on penalties.

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