England vs Croatia Preview

      So England take on Croatia in the second semi-final of the Fifa World Cup 2018. The Three Lions comfortably beat Sweden 2-0 in the quarters, with goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli. Both goals were supplied by United boys, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard. However, that meant the end of the tournament for Victor Lindelof.
      Elsewhere, Croatia fought hard for their win in the quarters against an extremely rampant Russia. Russia were very organised at the back and seemed comfortable being on the back foot. When they did concede, they charged upfront and got their equalizer. The game ended 2-2 which Croatia won on penalties.
      That sets up a crunch semi finals tie between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki. With enthusiastic chants of "It's coming home!", the English seem fairly confident about the game and for good reason. They have been one of the better sides this World Cup and they will draw confidence from the fact that Croatia played a much longer and physically tiring game in the quarters. Croatia also suffered some injuries to players like Danijel Subasic, Sime Vrsaljko, and Mario Mandzukic. However, because they had reached their capacity of three substitutes, meant that they could only change one player in extra time. That was the full back. 
      Despite that, Croatia happen to be one of the more technically adept sides in this World Cup and the toughest that England have faced in the competition so far. This does promise to be a great game of football. If England can manage to keep the ball more, it is bound to frustrate Croatia. As I have noticed, Croatians become more restless when they don't have the ball for longer periods. Anyway, let's start with the lineup predictions for tomorrow's game.

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Image Source: Goli Sports

ENGLAND:

Goalkeeper:  Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford has had an absolutely smashing World Cup and was the Man of the Match against Sweden. His saves have made all the difference for England and they hope he can pull off more saves against Croatia.

Defence: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire

This back three has conceded only 3 goals all tournament. They also have three goals among themselves. It has become a common site to see either Stones or Maguire with a towering header at the end of set pieces.

Midfield: Kieran Trippier, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young

All five of them have been spot on. There were issues about Alli but he has since silenced critics bby scoring the second goal against Sweden. The Manchester United boys have been absolutely fantastic and we hope they carry this form on. On the left, Trippier has been one of the best players for England after Pickford.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

Kane is a top contender for the golden boot whereas compatriot, Raheem Sterling, is yet to find his feet. He has been surprisingly poor this World Cup and England would hope he starts converting soon. I personally want Marcus Rashford to start against Croatia.

CROATIA:

Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic

Subasic suffered an injury late in the game against Russia and there have been no reports about it so that should mean he's fit. Otherwise we may see Lovre Kalinic get a start.

Defence: Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic

Again, despite suffering the nastiest injury, there has been no concrete news of Vrsaljko's absence and he should start tomorrow. If not, we may see Vedran Corluka take his place. The rest of the defence is strong will be busy against the likes of Kane and Alli.

Midfield: Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ante Rebic, Andre Kramaric, Ivan Perisic

The Rakitic-Modric backbone is what has been holding Croatia this tournament. Their contribution to Croatia has been immense. On the flanks, Rebic has been a revelation for Croatia and I feel some big club will swoop him up soon.

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic

Mandzukic who got the assist against Russia will retain his spot. He is great at setting up players on the flank and involving them in the goals. He will look to fool the English defence by making decoy runs and drawing the fullbacks away from Rebic and Perisic.

All in all I think it will be a great game, as semi finals always are. I feel England will win this game but it won't be easy. It will probably go to extra time 

Score prediction: England win 2-1 (AET)

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