England will face Croatia on Wednesday evening in the Semi Final of the World Cup as they look to reach their first final in over 50 years.
It is England’s most significant World Cup game since the semi-final loss to West Germany on penalties at Italia ’90 – with the prospect of matching that famous occasion from 52 years ago if they win.
Meanwhile Croatia will be looking to get in to their first World Cup final and better the best ever finish of 3rd in a World Cup.
The day before the match, every England player trained fully with the squad meaning there is no injury concerns for Southgate. Jordan Henderson had been doubtful with a hamstring problem for England but has been passed fit to play meaning Southgate will most likely go for the exact same team that beat Sweden. Jamie Vardy has also recovered from a groin injury sustained against Colombia.
Croatia have concerns for both full-back Sime Vrsaljko and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. Both picked up injuries 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.
England will be facing a side they know only too well. Luka Modric has only enhanced his already sky-high reputation as one of the world’s best midfielders, while Rakitic and Perisic complete a terrific attacking midfield trio.
More than that though, England and Croatia have history. It was that infamous night in 2007 where England lost to Croatia at home 2-3 to see the Three Lions fail to qualify for Euro 2008. Scott Carson fumbled Niko Kranjcar’s strike into his own net as manager McClaren was dubbed ‘the wally with the brolly’ after failing to make the Euros.
Arguably worse had come a year earlier when a Gary Neville back-pass bobbled over Paul Robinson’s right foot and in to the back as Croatia won 2-0. This was also during qualification for Euro 2008. Those two defeats are the only two however and have since beaten Croatia in Zagreb thanks to a Theo Walcott hat trick.
I personally think an England win. Croatia will struggle very much having just played back-to-back extra time and penalties. Towards the end of the game Croatia looked shattered against Russia and many players crashed to the ground as extra time came to an end. If the game goes to extra times then England would no doubt be favorites.
England I don’t think have been terrific in any games, even in the 6-1 win against Panama they have looked shaky. However, in each game their have been major positives and I’d say the Three Lions have got better each game and I think they’ll edge this one and face France in the final.
Prediction: Croatia 1-2 England