The second semi-final of World Cup 2018 takes place on Wednesday night, as Croatia and England go head-to-head for the chance to be in Sunday afternoon’s final.
Croatia heads into this game on the back of penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russia in the last-16 and quarter-final stages. Zlatko Dalic’s side had previously won all their group games at the finals.
The Eastern European sides’ results so far at the World Cup mean that they are now unbeaten in their last six internationals, winning four and drawing two of their games. Including extra-time, Dalic’s side has now scored at least two goals in five of their last six games.
Croatia will know that history is against them when it comes to games against England, as they have won just two of the seven meetings between the pair. In fact, the Three Lions have beaten the Eastern European side 4-1 and 5-1 in the last two meetings.
Dalic’s side are looking to make history at this World Cup, as they have never been beyond the semi-finals stage, making the last-four just once back in 1998, their first appearance in a World Cup finals tournament.
England made it through the semi-finals with a penalty kick win over Colombia in the last 16 and a 2-0 win over Sweden last time out in the quarter-finals.
The Three Lions heads into this game on the back of just one defeat in their last 15 international outings. Gareth Southgate’s team have been relatively prolific in recent games, scoring at least twice in five of their previous seven outings.
England has previously only made the semi-finals of the World Cup on two occasions, with the last time coming back in 1990, when they suffer a defeat by Germany on penalty kicks.
For Croatia full-back Sime Vrsaljko looks set to miss out through injury. Therefore, Vedran Corluka could replace the Atletico Madrid star. Dejan Lovren and Danijel Subasic are both injury doubts but are expected to recover in time to feature.
England have a fully fit squad heading into this clash after midfielder Jordan Henderson, and striker Jamie Vardy shook off knocks. Gareth Southgate is likely to name an unchanged starting line-up from last time out.
This could be a very close game. However, with Croatia having to play extra-time against Russia and the energy in the opposition, I can see England scraping a narrow victory in a tight game.
Who will advance to the World Cup final Croatia or England?