The England men’s football team are just one win away from their first World Cup final since 1966. However, they will come up against the topper of Group D, Croatia in the Croatia vs England clash. The Croats have made it to the semi-final and how! After comfortably defeating Nigeria
, they crushed Argentina
and Iceland to top group with 9 points. However, in the knock out stages they had to rely on the depth of squad
and heroics of their keeper as both the match not only went in Extra time but penalties edging opponent by goal each time.
Both the Europen teams have waited a long time for this stage as Croatia reached semis in France 1998, while England last reached the semi-final stage 28 years ago at Italy 1990. However this will be first Croatia vs England meeting between the two teams in World Cup having met in qualifiers almost a decade back. The English side have upper hand with 3 wins against 2 wins by Croats with one match being a goalless draw between sides.
Gareth Southgate’s men were second in group after losing in matchday 3 to Belgium
. They recorded their first penalty win in World Cup by winning against Columbia and then had a comfortable outing against Sweden by winning 2-0
. Hence, the Englishmen will have more fresh players than their Croatian counterpart which may prove decisive if the Croatia vs England game heads into extra time.
The highlight of the Croatia vs England match will be how Modric and co stop the threat of Harry Kane, who has been highest scorer in tournament, after successfully managing to keep Messi quiet in league stage. England will have same side going into semis while Croatia may have two changes with keeper Subasic and Sime Vrsaljko suffering from strains during match against Russia
Key Players to watch out for in Croatia vs England :
The Croatian captain has been in prolific form in this World Cup. Although he started as CAM in initial stages, since knockouts he has been playing as CDM and has been enforcer in the field.
The passing accuracy and vision has been second to none and has played major role in forming attack along with Ivan Rakitic thus scoring 2 goals while also assisting one.
Rakitic has been icy cool throughout the tournament. So far he has been entrusted twice with last penalty in shoot-out and he has delivered with aplomb helping them reach quarter first and then semis.
So far the Barcelona player has covered almost 50 Kms in 5 matches that he has played scoring a goal while completing 240 passes. Together with Modric and Brozovic , Rakitic has dominated midfield in all the matches they have played and would be expected to do the same in semi-final for Croatia vs England.
The English captain has undoubtedly led from front in this World Cup. Inspite missing a match due to his wedding, Kane has scored 6 goals in tournament making him highest scorer in the Cup and will look to continue the same in the Croatia vs England game.
Tottenham’s 24-year-old striker has good pace and is a typical goal-poacher. However, when things have been tough for England, he has dropped deep to create attacks and has been influential with his passing and creating goal scoring opportunities for his teammates.
The 24-year-old Keeper has been a revelation in the World Cup. Despite being just 6 feet tall, he has a big reach due to his supreme agility and is confident in claiming or punching away crosses.
The keeper has been a surprise pick ahead of Jack Butland and the Croatia vs England semi-final would be just his 9th appearance for The Three Lions. However, he has made the place his own in tournament by conceding just 4 goals in 5 matches while keeping a clean sheet in quarter finals.
The keeper also created history when he became first English keeper to win match in World Cup history, thus the English supporters would like him to repeat his feat should the Croatia vs England match go in Penalties.
Predicted Croatia vs England Line ups :
Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic; Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic
England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Dele, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane.