Croatia Look to Upstage England to Reach first Final

    11 Jul 2018 | World Cup | Preview
    Croatia Look to Upstage England to Reach first Final
    Dokshin Vlad /

    The second of the two World Cup semi-finals will take place on Wednesday 11th July at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.  The match will be a European encounter as Croatia meet England for a place in the 2018 World Cup final.

    Only once in their history have Croatia contested a World Cup semi-final and that was back in 1998.  They played France in that match, who were hosting the tournament and lost the game before winning the third/fourth playoff.

    England won the World Cup in 1966 and have reached the semi-final once since that success.  They lost to Germany on penalties in the 1990 World Cup semi-final and will be hoping to avoid that fate in this game.

    Croatia started the tournament in a tough group but a good 2-0 win over Nigeria was the perfect way to begin.  What followed was a great 3-0 defeat of Argentina and a 2-1 win over Iceland, which saw Croatia top the group with 9 points.

    The Round of 16 paired them with Denmark and having gone 1-0 down early in the match, Croatia fought back immediately to score.  The scores remained level through extra-time but Croatia came through a tense penalty shootout to win.  The same happened in the quarter-final against Russia and Croatia were forced to penalties following a 2-2 draw.

    They kept their nerve to win their second penalty shootout of the tournament and reach the semi-final.

    Croatia have scored 10 goals and conceded 4 at the 2018 World Cup.

    England have enjoyed an easier run to the semi-final, starting with wins over Tunisia and Panama in the group stages.  They lost their final match 1-0 to Belgium, with both teams playing reserve teams and this saw England enter the better half of the draw.

    A feisty match with Colombia saw England taken to penalties thanks to a last-minute equaliser from the South American team.  The Three Lions kept their nerve to win the shootout and book a quarter-final with Sweden.

    The Swedes offered very little during the game, only coming to life when they were already 2-0 down.  England did not start well but scored from a corner and sealed the win with a Dele Alli header early in the second half.

    England have scored 11 goals and conceded 4 at the 2018 World Cup.

    Looking ahead to the team news and Croatia avoided picking up any crucial bookings in their quarter-final meaning they have every player available.  Even those who were struggling for fitness towards the end of their quarter-final, including Danijel Subasic and Mario Mandzukic, will do everything to be fit in time for kick-off.

    England also avoided picking up any additional yellow cards to players who were one away from suspension.  They enjoyed a comfortable evening against Sweden in the quarter-final and every player should be available to Gareth Southgate.

    This match is the biggest challenge for both teams in the knockout stages.  Croatia and England have been fortunate with their half of the draw and will believe this game presents them with a fantastic opportunity to reach the final.

    Nerves could easily take over in this match and we could see a cagey affair, with neither team wanting to take a risk.  Do not be surprised to see this one end level after 90 minutes with the possibility of extra-time and penalty drama.

    Predictions for World Cup

    Home team - Away team Tip
    flag_89 WC
    15/07/2018 16:00
    flag_89 WC
    14/07/2018 15:00
    flag_89 WC
    11/07/2018 19:00
    flag_89 WC
    10/07/2018 19:00

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