Croatia and England are both on the brink of making history. But who end up making this remains to be seen in their semi-final clash of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Wednesday.
The former were not even considered one of the underdogs coming into the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Despite a group of world-class stars in their rank, the Vatreni’s had failed to show themselves on the international footballing scene for a while. However, with the World Cup look to the last for several individuals, individual spirit seemed to have spurred the team to the semi-finals.
England team, on the other hand, have always had to carry the burden of high expectations at every international level, But, this time around, their performance at this tournament looks promising and have managed to do what their golden generation could not achieve – reaching the semi-finals. The Three Lions next aim would be the finals, and then, perhaps, it really does come home.
The two team look well poised heading into this contest. The Croatians endured consecutive penalty shootouts against the likes of Denmark and Russia. England, however, won their first penalty shootout in a long time, against the Colombian before their 2-0 victory over Sweden.
As Croatia and England prepare themselves for a date that will make history, Football Week take a closer look at their squad’s team and tactics.
Injury to Sime Vrsaljko against Russia has seen him confirmed as an absentee for the remainder of the World Cup fixtures. While this will be a huge blow to the team, Zlatko Dalic would have to turn to Vedran Corluka as replacement. Although, his pace might be worrying for Croatia but the former Tottenham Hotspur man will be looking to help his nation with his experience to subdue the threat that will come from the likes of Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling.
Another change we should see in the Croatia lineup would like be Andrej Kramaric. He was a surprise starter against the host nation, with Marcelo Brozovic having to sit on the bench. But with their clash against England looking to be a very crunch one, we should see the Inter Milan midfielder return to the lineup, allowing Luka Modric to flourish in the number 10 role.
It’s possible Dalic would consider starting Ante Rebic who has been Croatian star in the tournament and dropping Mario Mandzukic.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Subasic; Corluka, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Brozovic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic
Jordan Henderson almost lost his chance of featuring in this clash, with the midfielder suffering a minor hamstring issue. The Liverpool central midfielder should be fit for this crucial clash, but that’s a huge gamble so we should Eric Dier starting ahead of him.
Dele Alli returned to hit form against Sweden and he is likely to have done enough to retain his place ahead of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Despite Raheem Sterling misses, he should get the nod to start again, with Marcus Rashford an option from the bench.
Harry Kane leads is leading the race to the Golden Boot and the striker could also be in line for the Golden Ball if he shows a brilliant performance against Croatia.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Alli, Dier, Lingard, Young; Kane, Sterling
Player to Watch : Luka Modric
Despite having an entire cast of 22 players, we just can’t look past Luka Modric. The former Tottenham man has been his country’s heartbeat so far in the tournament. And Modric playing against a midfield of five players – 3-5-2 lineup, the Real Madrid ace passing abilities will be put to a strong test.
Should Dier start in place of Henderson, he is likely going to be directed to mark Modric out of the game. It will all be then left to the maestro to wield his magical feet and weave his way through Dier and the English defence, either by himself or through his passes.
Prediction : Croatia 4-3 England
We are expecting to see much goals scored in this tournament. The two team have too much quality to not be able to break opposition defence during the course of 90 minutes. Croatia and England will be going head-to-head and the outcome should be determined by the end of stoppage time.
Regardless of how it ends, whoever get knocked out of the tournament tomorrow night should be proud of their achievements in Russia so far.