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World Cup 2018, Croatia vs England: 5 Key Players to watch out for

Varis Sharma
Top 5 / Top 10
7.42K   //    11 Jul 2018, 06:05 IST


The second semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be played on Wednesday between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. The two teams will meet for the eighth time overall but for the very first time in the World Cup finals tournament.

Croatia have been very impressive in this World Cup as they won all their group games which also included the 3-0 hammering of Argentina. The East European nation faced Denmark in the Round of 16 and won the tie on penalties.

They faced hosts, Russia next and once again won on penalties thereby becoming only the second team to win two consecutive penalty shootouts at the World Cup after Argentina in 1990.

England with a young squad have surprised everyone as they made it to their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years. Prior to the tournament, there weren't a lot of expectations from the inexperienced English side but they shut all their critics after performing exceptionally well at the biggest stage.

England finished second in their group and faced Colombia in the Round of 16 where they finally lifted their curse of never winning a penalty shootout at the World Cup. The Three Lions then went up against Sweden and booked a semi-final spot with a comfortable 2-0 victory.

We shall now take a look at 5 key players who will play a crucial role for their side in Wednesday's compelling semi-final fixture.

#5 Mario Mandžukić (Croatia)

The 32-year-old forward in the quarter-final match against Russia

Mandžukić made his debut for the Croatian national team on 17 November 2007 against Macedonia and has since earned 87 caps. He has scored 31 goals for Croatia and is currently second in the list of all-time top scorers behind Davor Šuker.

The 32-year-old forward plays for Italian Serie A side, Juventus and has won numerous titles with The Old Lady. Mandžukić has scored 34 goals in 127 appearances for Juventus over a span of three seasons. He was a vital member of the squad that reached the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League final where he scored his side's only goal in a 1-4 defeat against Real Madrid.

Mandžukić has great goalscoring abilities and in addition to that, he also possesses physical strength, versatility, and mobility. He primarily serves as a striker or target-man in the penalty area due to his height and aerial prowess. In addition to his ability as a footballer, Mandžukić is also known for his leadership and mental strength.

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Mandžukić has featured for Croatia in four games, scoring one goal and has provided an assist. He is expected to play a pivotal role for his national side against England in the all-important semi-final match on Wednesday.

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