Russia 2018 World Cup preview & probable line-up: Croatia vs England


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Croatia stand in the way of England making their first World Cup final since 1966 as the two teams meet in an intriguing Moscow semi-final.

Referee: Cakir C. (Tur)
Venue: Luzhniki Arena (Moscow)

11.07.2018               19:00

Croatia vs England probable line-up
With an all-European final on the cards, England (W4, L1 – 1 shootout win) and Croatia (W5 – 2 shootout wins) will battle it out in Moscow to set up a meeting in the final of Russia 2018 with the winner of the Belgium vs France match.
Croatia continue to deliver on the world stage after knocking out the host nation Russia in the quarter-finals. After conceding just one goal in the group stages where they swept aside Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, the ‘Blazers’ (CRO) then saw off Denmark (last-16) and Russia (quarter-finals) both on penalties.
Image result for russia 2018 fifa world cup croatia vs england

Gareth Southgate’s ‘Three Lions’ march on following an impressive 2-0 win over ‘bogey team’ Sweden. Now undefeated in 15 of their last 16 fixtures, England are 11 goals to the good and are particularly effective at set-pieces, with eight of their goals coming from dead-ball situations.

In seven previous H2H meetings in all competitions, England have the advantage with four wins compared to Croatia’s two – with one draw. Their last matchup saw England win 5-1 in the 2009 European qualifiers.
After playing 120 minutes of football against hosts Russia last time out, will the Croatia defence now hold out against the tournaments ‘set-piece’ kings? Or can Croatia take inspiration from their 3-2 victory back in 2007?
Players to watch: While Harry Kane has six goals so far, Croatia’s manager has outlined pace-master Raheem Sterling as England’s main danger – Sterling has two goals from 42 caps.
Image result for russia 2018 fifa world cup croatia vs england

Meanwhile, two-goal Luka Modrić has the experience and skill to hurt England from his own set-pieces – he has 14 goals from 111 caps.

Stat attack: Undefeated in their last nine matches, Croatia have seen over 2.5 goals in total in four of their last five meetings with England.

Team news

Jordan Henderson had been doubtful with a hamstring problem for England but has been passed fit to play meaning Southgate has a fully-fit squad to pick from, including Jamie Vardy, who has recovered from a groin injury sustained against Colombia.

Croatia are hoping both full-back Sime Vrsaljko and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic are fit after picking up injury concerns during the quarter-final win over Russia.

Croatia’s Domagoj Vida can play despite featuring in a pro-Ukraine video. FIFA outlaws political statements and said it had issued the Besiktas centre-back with just a warning after the video was published online.

Opta stats

  • This is the eighth meeting between England and Croatia, with England winning four of those games, with one draw and two Croatia wins; six of the previous seven games have also been played on a Wednesday.
  • England and Croatia have met once before at a major tournament – England won 4-2 in a group stage match at Euro 2004.
  • England are competing in their third World Cup semi-final; they won 2-1 against Portugal in 1966 on their way to winning the tournament, but lost on penalties to Germany in 1990.Image result for russia 2018 fifa world cup croatia vs england
  • Croatia have had eight different scorers at the 2018 World Cup – only Belgium have had more different players find the net (9).
  • England have not beaten two European nations in a single World Cup since 1982, when they beat Czechoslovakia and France.
  • England have scored 11 goals at this year’s World Cup, a joint-record along with the 11 they scored in their victorious 1966 tournament.
  • Croatia have reached the World Cup semi-finals for the second time since their first World Cup participation in 1998, which is more than the likes of Argentina, England, Italy, Portugal and Spain (1 each). The only European nations with more semi-final appearances in this period (inc. 2018) are Germany (4), France (3) and the Netherlands (3).
  • Croatia reached the semi-finals via penalty shootout victories in the last 16 against Denmark and quarter-final against Russia – the only other team to win two penalty shootouts in a single World Cup were Argentina in 1990 (against Yugoslavia and Italy).Image result for russia 2018 fifa world cup croatia vs england
  • England had 15 shots on target in their first two 2018 World Cup matches but have attempted just six in their three games since – England had eight shots on target against Portugal in the 1966 semi-final, and four in 1990’s semi-final against Germany.
  • Croatia have only lost one of their six knockout matches at the World Cup, losing to France in the 1998 semi-final.
  • Harry Kane has scored on six of the seven days of the week for England, with Wednesday the only day he hasn’t scored on. Should he score, he’ll become just the third player to score on all seven days of the week for England, after Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard.
With England scoring five set-piece goals, and Croatia concededing two set-piece goals; could we see another here?
A total of 28 goals between them since their inaugural 1996 meeting, the four-goals per-game average suggest this may be a high-scoring affair.
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