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World Cup 2018 Semifinals: England vs. Croatia Preview

The second semifinal game pits England and Croatia to decide one of the two finalists in the 2018 World Cup. Here is the preview and prediction of this exciting game.

World Cup 2018 – England vs. Croatia

  • Date: July 10, 2018, 2:00 PM ET  
  • Betting Odds: England +136 vs Croatia +262 – Draw +212
  • England to Advance PK -155
  • Croatia to Advance PK +128

The Three Lions have clashed with Croatia on five occasions since the turn of the century with England having won three games while losing two. Though it’s been almost a decade since they’ve competed again, in the 2010 World Cup, this promises to be a competitive match in which no team will give quarter.

Croatia Analysis

Croatia made it through Group D by winning every game while scoring seven goals in the process. However, the knockout stages proved more difficult as they were forced to penalties against both Denmark and host Russia to make it to the semifinals.

Throughout every match, one thing is constant though and it’s the role of team captain Luka Modric to this team’s success. Modric will once more be his team’s driving force to defeat England.

The question for Croatia will be if their defense can hold up after showing obvious deficiencies in both their games against Denmark and Russia.

Resiliency may be a factor for Croatia and there are open questions whether the team will have enough stamina to keep up with an English team that’s arguably more rested.

Key for Croatia will be their ability to anchor their midfielders, Modric and Rakitic to get the best of their abilities. Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic proved to be instrumental in Croatia’s win over Russia as he allowed Modric the opening to create scoring opportunities.

Croatia also has the advantage over England in that they’re not so reliant on one player to score, as is the case with Harry Kane, with nine different players scoring their 10 goals.

This makes Croatia incredibly difficult to defend against as any of their front four players can take the lead at center forward. However, this could also prove to be somewhat of a weak spot as Croatia does not have a point man that can reliably find the back of the net.

Croatia also has to be careful not to give England opportunities to score on set-piece plays on which they have given up goals both against Denmark and Russia.

Croatia Predicted Lineup: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Modric, Rakitic, Rebic, Kramaric, Perisic, Mandzukic

England Analysis

The English squad seems to have strolled into the semifinals after defeating Sweden in the quarterfinals rather easily. This means they’ll arguably be more rested ahead of their game against Croatia.

England’s most dangerous weapon in the World Cup has been their set-pieces on dead ball situations. Superbly, the Three Lions have scored eight of their 11 goals from set pieces.

So far, no team has been able to contend with England’s tactical lineup from corners or free kicks and given Croatia’s difficulties against Denmark and Russia in defending in these types of situations gives England a great opportunity to capitalize upon.

However, England will have to contend with Croatia’s formidable midfield that is arguably the best remaining in the tournament. Slowing down Modric and Rakitic will be key for England if they’re to escape with a win.

Croatia seems to struggle against closed defenses, but given England’s, more open alignment might lead to disaster when faced with Modric’s obvious knack for sending deep balls into the box.

England Predicted Lineup: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Henderson, Young; Lingard, Alli, Kane, Sterling

Game Prediction: This will be a closed match between two evenly matched squads. I believe stamina will be a factor with England having the upper hand both in youth and freshness. England wins 2-1. 

 
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