FIFA World Cup 2018
Croatia vs England
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow-Russia
England will be hoping that they can closet their previous semifinal shot comings at major tournaments when they take on Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.
The Three Lions have lost their last three semifinals at major tournaments and it is something their coach Gareth Southgate will be hoping to avoid.
Despite all the media pressure, England has managed to overcome Colombia and Sweden in the round of 16 and quarters respectively.
To get to the finals, they will have to negotiate past a Croatian side that has required two penalty shoot-outs against Denmark and Russia to reach the semifinals.
Croatia’s first-choice right-back Sime Vrsaljko has been ruled out with a knee injury suffered in the win over Russia and Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic will be monitored after suffering from a hamstring issue in that game.
England manager Gareth Southgate was given a boost when all 23 players in his squad trained fully on Tuesday. Jamie Vardy is available after sitting out the win over Sweden with a groin problem, while Jordan Henderson has overcome a tight hamstring.
What the coaches are saying before the game:
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic.
“We have nice memories from France [when Croatia reached the semis in 1998], our players did a great job.
“We want to get close to them, although it is difficult to repeat this endeavour, but we will try.
“We respect everyone – England, France but none of the squads is better than us!
England manager Gareth Southgate:
“As I have got older, I have become more conscious that it is easy to avoid challenges and avoid putting yourself on the line.
“But in the end you will never know the possibilities of great success or great moments like we have had in the last few weeks.
“The brain sometimes tells you to avoid the possibility of disappointment or failure but that is going to happen.
“The key is how you respond to failure and react to it.
They have have met once before at a major tournament – England won 4-2 in a group stage match at Euro 2004.
This will be their eighth meeting overall; England have won four times, Croatia twice, with one draw.
Croatia’s last victory against England was the infamous “Wally with the Brolly” match which Croatia won 3-2 at Wembley in November 2007 to end England’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008.
Croatia are playing in their second World Cup semi-final after a last four appearance on their debut in the tournament in 1998.
They reached the semi-finals via a penalty shootout victory in the last 16 against Denmark and the quarter-final against Russia. The only other team to win two shootouts in a single World Cup were Argentina in 1990 (against Yugoslavia and Italy).
Their only defeat in six World Cup knockout matches was against France in the 1998 semi-final.
That is Croatia’s only defeat in eight World Cup matches against European opposition (W5, D2).
They are unbeaten in their last nine competitive games since losing 1-0 to Turkey in September 2017.
The Croats have had eight different scorers at this World Cup; only Belgium with nine have had more.
This is England’s third World Cup semi-final following their 2-1 win over Portugal in 1966 and their penalty shootout defeat to West Germany in 1990.
The Three Lions have lost their last three semi-finals at major tournaments (Euro 96 v Germany, 1990 World Cup v West Germany and Euro 68 v Yugoslavia).
England’s current haul of 11 goals has equalled their highest total at a World Cup, set in 1966.
After losing three consecutive World Cup games, England have lost just one of their last six (W3, D2).
England have not beaten two European nations in a single World Cup since 1982, when they beat Czechoslovakia and France.
They have lost just two of their last 30 competitive matches (W22, D6) since losing their first two matches at the 2014 World Cup.
Harry Kane is the World Cup’s top scorer with six goals. At the previous nine World Cups, only Ronaldo (eight for Brazil in 2002) has scored more. No European player has scored seven goals at a single World Cup since Poland’s Grzegorz Lato got seven in 1974, while no European player has scored eight since Gerd Muller hit 10 for West Germany in 1970.