What to expect from Croatia and England’s World Cup semifinal

Gareth Southgate

Wayne Rooney believes Gareth Southgate's rejuvenated team can make the World Cup final.

England needed penalties to beat Colombia in the Round of 16, but eased into the last four with a trouble-free 2-0 victory over Sweden. And a young, likeable side with an eminently sensible and humble manager in Southgate have captured the hearts of a nation. England are one of the favourites to win the World Cup and you have to respect that. The more big games we're involved and the more they come out successful in, the more belief it will build.

"We're going into a semi-final but it just seems like it's the next step on the journey", he said.

For all of the hype around England, they have yet to come up against one of the really big guns at the World Cup. "I'm certain our team will play well and I have complete trust they'll go and play in the way they have throughout this tournament".

Ashley Young insists there is no point England celebrating setting up a World Cup semi-final against Croatia as they "haven't won anything yet".

Roger Federer, Serena Williams sail into Wimbledon quarterfinals
The prestigious Centre Court at the All England Club became witness to the iconic moment and Twitter went insane over the clip. With his 30th birthday approaching in September, his lone Slam triumph at the 2009 US Open is a meagre return as a outcome .


The captain was the man of the match again in the penalty shootout win over Russian Federation in Sochi at the weekend.

And there were growing concerns about whether or not he would be fit enough to be ready in time for Wednesday's semi-final against Croatia.

"There is still a lot to play".

"We'll just have to assess people as we go".

"We expect a different game to unfold", he said.

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This will be England's first meeting with Croatia at a major tournament since the Euro 2004 group stage, when the Three Lions triumphed 4-2. But there is less pressure on them now. However, their two knockout-stage games have gone to penalties.

He said: "The feel of this group of players is very similar to the players we had then".

The fact that Croatia have had to play so much football could perhaps give England an edge, all the more so given the injury problems faced by Dalic.

Per the Mirror's David McDonnell, Dejan Lovren and Danijel Subasic are doubts for Croatia, but full-back Sime Vrsaljko has been ruled out, according to Robert Cottingham of MailOnline.

Although Croatia are the most hard opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate's words suggest he will continue with his attacking formation and personnel.

Leeds United's Pontus Jansson reacts on Twitter after England's World Cup victory
Yet the performances of Gareth Southgate's squad - the second youngest at the tournament - are being celebrated wildly back home. There was another against Sweden , with Maguire heading in a driven corner from Ashley Young in the 30th minute.


Kieran Trippier has created 13 chances at the 2018 World Cup, more than any other defender at the tournament, and, if he can continue that form here, he may just provide Harry Kane with the bullets that fire England into their first World Cup final since 1966. So we won't win the game just because Croatia had half an hour more football than us three days ago.

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