Croatia vs. England - Football Match Preview

Gareth Southgate

"They have players like Harry Maguire, Harry Kane, John Stones and others, who are very strong".

England have scored eight out of their 11 goals so far from set pieces including penalties.

"We're going to have to pay attention to those details, because we conceded a goal against Russian Federation that we shouldn't allow".

Following the relatively stress-free 2-0 quarter-final win over Sweden and with no fresh injury worries or suspensions, the smart money would be on Southgate selecting the same XI for Wednesday's last-four tie with Croatia.

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Despite a comfortable run through their group, Croatia has had a tougher ride in the knockout rounds, needing extra time and penalties to eliminate both Denmark in the round of 16 and then hosts Russian Federation in the last four.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic tweaked an existing hamstring problem in the closing stages of Croatia's win over Russian Federation, though played on regardless and even made a crucial stop in the penalty shootout.

While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, Southgate's language does not indicate he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.

"It's been a long season, but you play in a World Cup semi-final once in a lifetime and there's no point giving up now". It's important that we do our best on the pitch.

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However, Kane's partner in attack, Raheem Sterling, has pace to burn and England's totem will be on hand to benefit if that causes problems for the Croatians. But we have to kill games earlier.

The Three Lions have had several fitness worries going into the match, with Jordan Henderson suffering from a tight hamstring in the final stages of the win over Sweden and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford hurting his thumb.

"They're very risky on set-pieces". Victory would see them return to the same venue to face either France or Belgium in the final.

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