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England hope to keep dream alive against Croatia

11 July, 2018, 05:40 | Author: Sylvester Abbott
  • Davor Suker was the golden boot winner in 1998's tournament

They overcame Colombia on penalties in the last 16 in Russian Federation after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser, before a 2-0 victory against Sweden sent England through to a first World Cup semi-final appearance in 28 years.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his inexperienced side must look to perform at their "regular level" despite the pressure of playing in a World Cup semi-final.

They beat Sweden 2-0 on Saturday, before Croatia advanced at the expense of hosts Russian Federation on penalties.

"We will get a good group of us together to watch it - we haven't decided where yet, it might be Crown", Mr Zlendic said.

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". The two teams last faced each other in World Cup qualifying in 2009, and both matches in that group went decisively to England - but that was almost a decade ago. This team is nowhere near the level they're going to be capable of, partly due to their age but also because they'll have more big-match experiences over the next few years.

"We watched England and we saw how strong they are", Modric said in the post match press conference after his sides quarter-final victory.

If Vrsaljko is ruled out then Dalic has two options, either bringing in specialist right-back Tin Jedvaj, who played against Iceland, or the more probable option of moving Domagoj Vida to right-back and bringing in the experienced Vedran Corluka to pair Dejan Lovren at centre back.

Vrsaljko says that he expects the match against England to be completely different than the games against Denmark and Russian Federation.

"We are hungry for more, we want more and hopefully we can show it on Wednesday".

"Yes, we're going into a semi-final but to us it's the next step along the journey".

Southgate's plan has worked so far, so much so that an influx of England fans is anticipated in Moscow on Wednesday - many of them have bought into "Waistcoat Wednesday" in tribute to Southgate's World Cup outfit. "We've talked about how important it is to have that spirit".

Croatia, on the other hand, did not have easy wins this World Cup.

Modric started that match at Wembley and remains integral to Croatia's game 11 years later, the captain having been widely hailed as one of the best players at the finals in Russian Federation. The Three Lions are confident, and why shouldn't they be?

Fatigue could be an issue for Croatia as the game wears on, given they have gone to extra time and penalties in both knockout games in Russian Federation, although they also won both shootouts.

"I've played against Modric a few times: he's a world-class player, one of the best I've played against".

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