Croatia and England will battle it out for the chance to play France in the final of the World Cup on Sunday, with both nations realising just how big an opportunity they have been presented with. The Three Lions head into the clash as slight favourites, with the Croats coming into the semi-final on the back of two mentally and physically draining penalty shootout wins. However, they will fancy their chances in what is sure to be the last World Cup for many of the current crop.
Zlatko Dalic’s men were extremely impressive in getting out of their group, with a thumping 3-0 win over Argentina a memorable moment. Yet, they’ve stumbled past Denmark and Russia in the knockout games, hardly the toughest opposition. Against the Danes they were particularly fortunate to get to penalties and they looked extremely tired after another demanding 120 minutes last time out. However, successive penalty wins will have given them a major confidence boost and they have the players to beat anyone on their day.
Meanwhile, England are another surprise package but like Croatia they haven’t had the toughest run to get to the final. A group with Tunisia and Panama was a formality whilst defeat to Belgium meant they ended up on the favourable side of the draw. A penalty shootout win over Colombia was a big moment mentally for the players whilst they overcame Sweden last time out with a reasonably strong performance and in Harry Kane have the man who is nailed on to win the golden boot.
Here we will give you Croatia vs England betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Croatia vs England prediction for the last four clash.
Our Croatia vs England Prediction: Croatia 1-2 England
Our Croatia vs England prediction tips is for England to just about get through with Croatia sure to be fatigued after a very demanding past two games.
In the World Cup the games come thick and fast and it could catch up with Croatia. They’re already likely to miss one key player through injury with right-back Sime Vrsaljko unlikely to play and that will be a huge blow. Vedran Corluka will come in and that seriously impacts the side going forward and the balance of the team. So, whilst Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic can control the game, we think England edge it in both key areas of the pitch.
Defensively, Gareth Southgate’s men haven’t always convinced but they have good qualities to combat Mario Mandzukic. Kyle Walker has the pace to deal with the big man, whilst Harry Maguire the strength and the three-man defence means one will always cover. Whereas up top, Kane is very prolific whilst Raheem Sterling’s pace and movement could worry what is a rather slow Croatia defence. As well as that, set-pieces have been a major part of this tournament and England are a huge threat. All in all, they have just about enough to scrape through in what will be a nervy evening.
Our recommended tip – BTTS
Despite thinking Southgate’s men have enough to make their first World Cup final since ’66, you can’t underestimate Croatia because they have quality all over the pitch.
However, particularly in midfield and you could make a strong case to say it’s the best in world football at international level. Modric has been superb, Rakitic adds even more class and Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan will come in to bring yet more passing quality to the team. Therefore, Croatia could easily dominate possession and with Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic among the attackers you have different threats with pace and strength. Ultimately, they’ve easily got enough in their side to score against an England side that conceded goals against Panama and Tunisia.
Similarly, Croatia’s defence looks old and not the most mobile, which is a major worry against an attack as fluid as England’s. Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling all boast great movement, make intelligent runs and have pace. That should create chances and if Kane gets one you’d back him to score. Then, there’s the set-piece threat which has been the source for many England goals. It’s a tough game to call but there should be goals despite the inevitable tension and nerves given the occasion.
The clash in Moscow will be the eight meeting between the nations and it’s a fixture that England have had the better of over the years. They’ve won four of the other seven games, including the only one in a major tournament back in Euro 2004. However, the Croats did the double over England in qualifying for Euro 2008, including a famous 3-2 win at Wembley that prevented England qualifying for the tournament.
As for their performances, Croatia were effective in qualifying from the group, winning against Nigeria and Iceland in comfortable fashion but sandwiched between those the 3-0 win over Argentina saw then really turn on the style. Since then, it’s been a grind. Danijel Subašić was the hero against Denmark on penalties and he delivered again as they defeated hosts Russia in a shootout. However, they’ve failed to replicate the performance level of Argentina on both occasions which will be a concern.
Meanwhile, it’s been tough to judge England. Wins over Tunisia and Panama were expected, whilst they lost to a Belgium side in what was effectively a reserve game. The Three Lions needed penalties themselves to overcome Colombia and even though they deserved to beat Sweden, Jordan Pickford was arguably man of the match. Creating clear chances from open play has been an issue but the opposition have tended to sit back against them, that shouldn’t be the case in Moscow.
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Players to watch – Luka Modric & Raheem Sterling
The Real Madrid man is probably the best player in the world in his position and has proven that over the years and at this World Cup. He makes the team tick, controls the tempo and weighs in with important goals. He is the best player on the park and will need a big performance. For England, stopping him will be crucial and they will have to press quickly but many have tried before and failed.
Sterling has been dividing opinions in England however it shouldn’t be the case. His contribution can’t be understated and thankfully Southgate is one who recognises that and the Manchester City forwards pace, movement and dribbling ability could be too much for a Croatia defence that isn’t the most mobile. There’s no doubt he needs to take his time and improve his end product but if he keeps getting in good positions a goal or an assist will come.