World Cup: Croatia, England aim to create history

World Cup: Croatia, England aim to create history
Harry Kane and Luka Modric
Moscow, Jul 10 (IANS) | Publish Date: 7/11/2018 12:22:05 AM IST
Croatia’s compact side will combat England’s fast and direct football when they meet in the second semi-final of the FIFA World Cup with both teams aiming to recreate their own history by progressing to the title decider.
The Croats, basking in the afterglow of their golden generation of footballers, have reached the semi-finals for the second time in their brief history. They will aim to better the third-place finish achieved by the star-studded squad spearheaded by the legendary Davor Suker at the 1998 edition in France.
For England, it is a chance to reach the final for the first time since their World Cup winning campaign at home in 1966, more than a generation ago. They reached the last four stage for the last time in Italy back in 1990.
While Croats are in the semi-finals on the back of two knockout victories over Denmark and Russia via penalty shootouts, England got past Colombia and Sweden in the last two elimination matches.
Croatia have had an impressive campaign at this World Cup. They topped an extremely difficult group that included perennial title contenders Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria. 
On the other hand, England’s progression to the knockout rounds was far more easy -- they defeated inexperienced sides like Tunisia and minnows Panama before losing to an impressive Belgium.
In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have arguably the best midfield in Russia and the presence of star strikers Mario Mandzukic and Ante Rebic add some added force upfront. 
Modric and Rakitic have also been protecting central defenders Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, who stand in front of experienced keeper Danijel Subasic.
While left-back Ivan Strinic is certain to start, Croatia’s preferred right-back Sime Vrsaljko is yet to fully recover from a knee injury suffered during the game against Russia. His absence would likely hand a start to Vedran Corluka in the center of defense alongside Lovren, shifting Vida to right-back.
Rebic, along with Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic may feature ahead of the midfield duo of Modric and Rakitic. Mandzukic will lead Croatia’s attack. In case, Croatia go with three-man midfield, one of Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic may get a place. Croatia have an experienced squad and will go into the match with the belief of going the distance. 
Playing in a 3-5-2 formation, England are the third youngest team in the tournament and head coach Gareth Southgate has done his utmost to lower the expectations. Harry Kane is the leading goal-scorer in the tournament with six goals to his name and like his tally, most of England’s goals have come from corners and crosses from the wings.
Wednesday’s match 
Croatia Vs England: 11:30 p.m. 
Head to head history 
April 24, 1996 – England 0-0 Croatia (Friendly)
August 20, 2003 – England 3-1 Croatia (Friendly)
June 21, 2004 – England 4-2 Croatia (Euro 2004)
October 11, 2006 – England 0-2 Croatia (Euro 2008 qualifier)
November 21, 2007 – England 2-3 Croatia (Euro 2008 qualifier)
September 10, 2008 – England 4-1 Croatia (World Cup 2010 qualifier)
September 9, 2009 – England 5-1 Croatia (World Cup 2010 qualifier)

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