FIFA World Cup 2018, England vs Croatia: Preview
A trip to the 2018 World Cup Final is on the line when England and Croatia square off against each on Wednesday, July 11 in the second semi-final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Both sides have waited patiently for their turn, each experiencing heartbreak in prior editions since they last appeared in the final four. It's been 20 years since Croatia last reached the semi-finals way back in 1998, where they lost to the hosts France. While England last reached the semi-final stage 28 years ago at Italy in 1990.
Both teams would agree that before Russia 2018 started, they would not have anticipated reaching this stage. But have certainly earned their place with valiant performances. Croatia has had to play two consecutive penalty shootouts against Denmark and the host Russia to reach this stage of the tournament.
The two grueling 120-minute epic encounters might have caused fatigue, which could be a slight concern for Croatia before their encounter against the Three Lions on Wednesday. England, on the other hand, has cruised past Sweden in the quarterfinals. If we look at the FIFA World Rankings, England is No. 12 and Croatia is No. 20. But as we have seen in this world cup so far, rankings don't matter that much. It all depends on how well you play on the given day.
England hasn't conceded more than 1 goal in any game in Russia 2018. Harry Kane is England's top goal scorer with 6 goals so far, the most by any Englishman at a World Cup since 1986 when star striker Gary Lineker scored six in Mexico. Harry Kane is a strong contender for the golden boot.
On the other hand, Croatia's well-balanced attack has been on full display in the World Cup so far. Croatia has had 8 different goal scorers. The feeling in the Croatian camp is that they are now at their peak as a team - and have never been happier as a group. We know all about Modric and Rakitic in the heart of their midfield but they are also dangerous on the flanks and, at the back, Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida have been solid as well.
History beckons for both these sides, who have big-name and big-game players amongst their ranks. Let's get ready for this thrilling and epic encounter.
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.