Croatia ace to play through pain barrier against England

Croatia after they beat Russia on penalties during their quarter final match

Croatia after they beat Russia on penalties during their quarter final match

Gareth Southgate has warned that England's semi-final against Croatia will be his side's toughest test at the World Cup so far.

Gareth Southgate has created an exciting young squad, built upon an attractive style of play and a fearless attitude rarely seen from English sides in worldwide football.

Fatigue could be an issue for Croatia as the game wears on, given they have gone to extra time and penalties in both knockout games in Russian Federation, although they also won both shootouts.

"It's another step in a journey".

Modric has been Croatia's key component in Russian Federation this summer with his two goals making him the top scorer, as well as completing more minutes than any other Croatian player with 485. Many supporters are viewing this match as England's chance of revenge. His pass completion drops quite low at 80.6% but that is because he is the engine room making the team tick.

Henderson added: "It's very exciting for English football".

Dier said: "He (Modric) is a great player, one of the best in the world, and whatever position or wherever he plays it doesn't make a difference to a player of that quality". Otherwise, England have no fitness issues going into the last-four. They are in the semifinals for the first time since 1990.

There's previous here as well.

Kane's battle with Dejan Lovren will be where this game is won or lost.

Lovren came out second best when facing the Tottenham Hotspur striker at club level nine months ago, being substituted a little over half an hour into Liverpool's 4-1 defeat with Kane already boasting a goal and an assist.

But Lovren said he enjoyed taking on the world's best as he looks to showcase his talent on a huge stage.

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Henderson, if again selected as England's sole holding midfielder, will need to be at his disruptive best to prevent the Croatians developing a stranglehold in the middle of the pitch, while also watching out for those surging runs forward. He has also formed a strong partnership in central defence with Besiktas' Domagoj Vida, maintaining this will be key when trying to contain the tournament's top scorer.

With the end in sight, the game is likely to be more open and played at a quicker pace.

Ask anyone rooting for England in the World Cup, and they'll tell you, "It's coming home".

To that point, we had been allowing Spain to play their game, passing the ball like we all... Harry Maguire usually plays on the left of England's back three and Mandzukic may seek to distance himself from Maguire and take on a more winnable duel with Kyle Walker.

The fact that Croatia have had to play so much football could perhaps give England an edge, all the more so given the injury problems faced by Dalic.

They had won just one knockout match at a major tournament in 16 years before coming to Russian Federation, a 1-0 victory against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Ivan Strinic is the man who will be tasked with containing Trippier.

Since 1998, Croatia have endured disappointments at major tournaments themselves, notably losing on penalties to Turkey in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.

Croatia struggled to beat Denmark or Russian Federation in 120 minutes and England have more energy and quality in the final third.

Southgate's plan has worked so far, so much so that an influx of England fans is anticipated in Moscow on Wednesday - many of them have bought into "Waistcoat Wednesday" in tribute to Southgate's World Cup outfit.

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