FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia vs England Preview - The battle of underdogs!

New Delhi, Subhayan Chakraborty | Updated : 11 July 2018, 07:47 PM
FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia vs England Preview - The battle of underdogs!
FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia vs England Preview - The battle of underdogs!

With an all-European final on the cards, England and Croatia will battle it out in Moscow to set up a meeting in the final of FIFA World Cup 2018 against France at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday.

Croatia’s ‘golden generation’ continue to deliver on the world stage after knocking out the host nation Russia in the quarter-finals. After conceding just one goal in the group stages where they swept aside Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, the ‘Blazers’ then saw off Denmark in the last-16 and Russia in the quarter-finals both on penalties.

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Gareth Southgate's 'Three Lions' march on following an impressive 2-0 win over 'bogey team' Sweden. Now undefeated in 15 of their last 16 fixtures, England are 11 goals to the good and are particularly effective at set-pieces, with eight of their goals coming from dead-ball situations.

In seven previous Head-to-Head meetings in all competitions, England have the advantage with four wins compared to Croatia's two - with one draw. Their last matchup saw England win 5-1 in the 2009 European qualifiers.

After playing 120 minutes of football against hosts Russia last time out, will the Croatia defence now hold out against the tournaments 'set-piece' kings? Or can Croatia take inspiration from their 3-2 victory back in 2007?

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The Croats are seeking their maiden FIFA World Cup final appearance, while England are back for the first time since they lifted the golden trophy in 1966 at the Wembley.

The Vatreni may very well feel that they have the edge in the heart of the midfield, where Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic have displayed their class throughout the tournament.

Players to watch: While Harry Kane has six goals so far, Croatia's manager has outlined pace-master Raheem Sterling as England's main danger - Sterling has two goals from 42 caps.

Meanwhile, two-goal Luka Modrić has the experience and skill to hurt England from his own set-pieces - he has 14 goals from 111 caps.

Stat attack: Undefeated in their last nine matches, Croatia have seen over 2.5 goals in total in four of their last five meetings with England.

With England scoring five set-piece goals at this World Cup, and Croatia conceding two set-piece goals; could we see another here?

A total of 28 goals between them since their inaugural 1996 meeting, the four goals per-game average suggest this may be a high-scoring affair.

Whatever the end result might be, it is absolutely true that both the teams have displayed some fabulous performances throughout the tournament and the footballing fans have enjoyed every moment of their sheer brilliance. Till then, good luck to both the teams!

First Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 03:43 PM
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