Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Playing Croatia in semifinal is a harsh reminder for England

All about 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-finals Ghanaians react to Russia's shootout defeat to Croatia
Tamara Craig | 10 July, 2018, 14:07

Only time will tell, but till then - here are the predictions for both semi-final matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Croatia have never reached a World Cup final, their best finish coming in 1998, when they placed third, having lost to eventual winners France in the semis.

After a dramatic win on penalties against Russia, Croatia will play England on Wednesday in front of 80,000 people in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium for a place in the World Cup final.

Croatia players were less vocal on social media after narrowly progressing to their first semi-final appearance since 1994, but it can not be denied that the players are not motivated for Wednesday evening.

Raphael Varane headed France on their way to a 2-0 win over Uruguay from a free kick while Fernandinho deflected a cross from a corner into his own net to put his Brazil side behind in their eventual 2-1 defeat by Belgium.

England were drawn against Croatia in qualifying for Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 with these two different campaigns producing wildly different results.

OPENING SALVO Russia had delivered the flawless opening salvo, firing five goals past the Saudis in the World Cup opening match that instantly gave the home crowd a reason to turn their attention to football.

The semi-final also represents a financial mismatch between the riches of England's Premier League and Croatian football.

Uruguay's Cavani not ruled out of World Cup QF
But we will try our best and look to impose our way of playing on them, using our strengths. After the Portugal game Cavani told reporters: "I hope it's nothing".

"Obviously we work on them in attack and defence, and they are vitally important for us", said Ashley Young, one of England's set-piece specialists.

Fans gather during a meeting with Russia's national soccer team at the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow, a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia July 8, 2018. As we have seen before when they have reached this stage of a major tournament, their success has a wider significance and their football team is seen as a symbol of a united France. It was a good game against Belgium [in the quarter-finals].

England are at 10.00 to win after either extra time or penalties, while Croatia's prices alter slightly: 13.00 to win after 120 minutes, but 10.00 to win via a shoot-out.

"We know where we are, we know we're not the finished article and I don't think we have loads of world class players".

The two sides have not played each other since September 2009, but there does seem to be a pattern throughout the seven matches they have played.

"It's a great story for me, it was my first time outside Croatia, everything was really new", he said.

I was at both of Croatia's matches in the knockout stages - their penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russian Federation.

Croatia came from behind in Sochi with Andrej Kramaric cancelling out Denis Cheryshev's opener as the tie ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. "We have everything needed to do that, a great team, great staff and I hope we will make the extra step", he said.

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