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England face tough Croatia test in World Cup semi-final

11 July 2018 by

England play Croatia on Wednesday with a place in the World Cup final in Moscow on July 15 up for grabs.

The Three Lions reached the last four with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sweden, while Croatia needed a penalty shoot-out to see off hosts Russia.

England can be backed at 13/10 to win the match in 90 minutes, with Croatia available at 5/2 and the draw on offer at 2/1, but check out these World Cup 2018 predictions before wagering on the outcome.

Manager Gareth Southgate is expected to name an unchanged line-up for the game. Jordan Henderson had been a fitness concern with a tight hamstring, while Jamie Vardy was an unused substitute in Saturday’s win over Sweden with a groin injury.

However, both players completed a full training session alongside the rest of the squad at the Spartak Zelenogorsk stadium on Tuesday. The Three Lions then flew out to Moscow for their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic’s main injury concern centres around Atletico Madrid full-back Sime Vrsaljko. The 26-year-old suffered a blow to his left knee in extra-time of Saturday’s quarter-final win over Russia and was replaced by Croatia’s fourth substitute.

He remains in discomfort, but he has told Dalic that he wants to play in the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.

However, Atletico boss Diego Simeone has insisted that the defender is not selected due to the risk he could suffer a more serious injury.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and centre-back Dejan Lovren sat out a training session on Monday, but both should be fit enough to take their places in the starting XI.

England’s previous record against Croatia should give their harmonious squad plenty of confidence that they can reach Sunday’s final.

The two sides have played each other on seven previous occasions, with the Three Lions winning four and drawing one of those meetings.

England and Croatia have met just once before at a major tournament, with England winning 4-2 in a group stage match at the 2004 European Championships.

Their last appearance in a World Cup semi-final came back in 1990 when they lost on penalties to Germany. Croatia have reached the semi-finals just once before, losing 2-1 against France in 1998.

The first semi-final between France and Belgium was a tight affair, and Wednesday’s clash is likely to follow the same pattern.

Both sides have been involved in penalty shoot-outs at the tournament, so backing either team to win via that method at odds of 4/1 could pay dividends.

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