Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018: Finally, England and Croatia have to banish semifinal blues

Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018: Finally, England and Croatia have to banish semifinal blues

England are dreaming of a first World Cup final since 1966 but first they must come through Wednesday's semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium against Croatia in what looks like their toughest test yet in Russian Federation.

Despite the prospect of England reaching a first World Cup final since lifting the trophy on home soil in 1966, the squad looked relaxed during the open section of their morning session.

Vida is a key player for Croatia and has become even more so with Sime Vrsaljko doubtful for Wednesday's game with a knee problem.

Captain Harry Kane led his team-mates off their private plane as players, management and fans counted down the hours to the nation's biggest game since 1996, when they lost reached a major semi-final.

Southgate acknowledges England players are in a different era
Belgium , loaded with talent, but still looking for their first title on the biggest stage in football, will be no push-overs. The World Cup Final is scheduled to kick off at 4pm on Sunday, July 15.

Their one defeat came against Belgium in their final group game, in a match between two essentially reserve sides.

While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, Southgate's language does not indicate he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren is eager to prove a point when he comes up against England forward Harry Kane in the World Cup semi-finals.

While many outsiders view that unexpected Croatian run to the last four as a great success, inside the country many share the view of the team's then manager Miroslav Blazevic that it was a missed opportunity.

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Although Croatia are the most hard opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate has suggested he will stick to his gameplan.

But Southgate thinks talk of that handing a physical advantage to England is being overplayed.

"We are concentrating on what's going on now. We've got to win because we play better".

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