England hope to keep dream alive against Croatia

Mae Harvey
July 11, 2018

"[Him and Ivan Rakitic] are two great players, everyone knows that, but hopefully we can do our jobs on Wednesday as a team and individuals and contain them".

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.

They had won just one knockout match at a major tournament in 16 years before coming to Russian Federation, a 1-0 victory against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. "The higher the level of opponent, if you press in a disorganised fashion, then you will get picked through and we have got to be conscious of that".

That allowed Croatia to reach the semi-finals for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France, which was their first as an independent nation.

With an average age of 26, England is one of the youngest teams at the World Cup.

Vida has quietly been one of the standout performers at this World Cup, and Croatia will be relieved he avoided a suspension for a rather ill-advised video published online after the win over Russian Federation. Tiredness will be the major concern for head coach Zlatko Dalic after his side went to extra time and penalties in both their quarter-final and the round of sixteen games. The more big games we're involved and the more they come out successful in, the more belief it will build.

24 April 1996, friendly: England 0-0 CroatiaNiko Kovac of Croatia celebrates with teammate Robert Kovac after beating England 3-2 in a Group E Euro 2008 Qualifying game. They'll be one game from being World Cup winners. Otherwise, England have no fitness issues going into the last-four. - Mario Mandzukic assisted Andrej Kramaric's goal against Russian Federation in the quarterfinal - he has been involved in four goals at the World Cup finals for Croatia (3 goals, 1 assist), with only Davor Suker involved in more (6).

Southgate had all 23 of his players available with Jordan Henderson seemingly overcoming tight hamstring and Jamie Vardy, who was feared to have played this last game in Russian Federation with a groin injury.

On the other side of the fence, Mosman Park's Western Knights Soccer Club are equally fired up to watch Croatia in action.

After overcoming Colombia in a penalty shootout, the first time England have ever done so in a World Cup.

England have scored eight out of their 11 goals so far from set pieces including penalties.

"Health has to be number one, but to play for the Croatian team, to play in the World Cup semi-final, I do not need to even say that I will be giving it 300% to be fit".

"We have strength and we're united on the pitch", the Barcelona star told FIFA TV.

But he is certainly well aware of the threat that Croatia pose in the center of the field.

In the latest in a series of controversies, former worldwide Ognjen Vukojevic was kicked out of their delegation on Monday and fined by Federation Internationale de Football Association for posting a pro-Ukraine video clip following their penalty shootout victory over Russia on Saturday.

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