Tonight, Croatia and England will battle for the last place in World Cup 2018 Final.
Croatia has shown great skill and ability in their journey to the Semi- Finals. They won all three Group games including a thrilling 3-0 victory over twice winners Argentina. In the Round of 16, they were forced into extra time and then penalties against the Danes which they won 3-2. They met home nation Russia in the quarter finals and what a game it was. At full time both teams were level on 2-2 which led to extra time and another nail-biting penalty shootout which saw them end Russia’s chance to win their first World Cup and on home soil. If they beat the Three Lions tonight this will be their first time ever in a World Cup Final.
Gareth Southgate’s side made a great start in World Cup campaign, beating Tunisia and Panama with ease. Next up were the organised and methodical Belgians who England failed to break down and lost 1-0. In the Round of 16, Colombia forced England in extra time and then penalties after drawing 1-1 in normal time. England made history winning their first ever penalty shootout in the World Cup tournament. Gareth Southgate remembers all too well what is like to miss a pivotal penalty and to be sent home, but luck was with the English last week! This new-found confidence was very evident in their quarter final clash with Swedes, beating them 2-0 and booking their place in the Semi-Final for the first time since 1990.
It’s been fifty-two years since England won the first and only World Cup title, does this young team have what it takes to bag the title for the second time? England are currently tipped at 13/2* to win in tonight’s game with the nation chanting “It’s coming home” but they will need to get past a determined Croatia in the process. Croatia may be suffering from fatigue after two back to back 120-minute matches with penalties, but do they enough left in the tank to send the Three Lions home? It has been reported that Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, right-back Sime Vrsaljko and Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren all missed Monday’s training session ahead of tonight’s clash. Subasic rested due to a hamstring strain but Vrsaljko’s knee injury sustained during extra time against Russia is thought to be serious and could see him sit out tonight’s pivotal game.
Concerns were raised about England’s Dele Alli’s fitness, rising star Jordan Pickford sustaining a thumb injury and Jordan Henderson’s hamstring strain but all twenty-three participated in training on Monday. It is thought that Southgate will not change his starting eleven who beat Colombia and Sweden. This young squad is the best chance England have to take it home for the first time since 1966!