England have the opportunity to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 whilst Croatia could become only the 13th ever nation to reach the final after the second semi-final on Wednesday.
Both teams have had a favourable route to the final four – Gareth Southgate’s side beating Tunisia and Panama in the group stage, Colombia in the second round and Swede in the quarter-finals.
Croatia set up the second semi-final with penalty shootout victories over both Denmark and Russia despite below par performances. They will be looking to recreate their performances in the group stage where they were comfortable 2-0 winners over Nigeria and 3-0 versus Argentina.
I have not been convinced by England in the final third at all, creating so few chances to get to this stage – just four in their two knockout stage matches, three of them from set pieces. And set pieces will be the key for England in this game if they are to reach the final – they simply do not create enough, or anything, in open play.
Defensively I have not been impressed by England either, backed up by keeping just one clean sheet, and that was thanks to some excellent saves from Jordon Pickford.
Croatia’s midfield have the ability to dominate this game – Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic against only Jordan Henderson really, unless Southgate switches things around. Even then the England manager only has Eric Dier and Fabian Delph as additional options in front of the back four.
Despite Croatia playing an extra 30 minutes in the knockout round, big deal, I think we’ll see the former-Yugoslav country reaching Sunday’s final.
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