Two squads will look to transform into local legends with one more victory. England and Croatia square off in Moscow on Wednesday, with France awaiting the winner in the World Cup Final. It’s a surprise run for both teams, who both won penalty shootouts along the way.
England vs. Croatia Squads
For Croatia, there are legitimate concerns about fitness and conditioning. Croatia is only the second team ever to win two shootouts at a World Cup, but those long matches could weight heavily on Croatian playmakers like Luka Modric.
“We played twice for 120 minutes in six days and spent tremendously, physically and mentally,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic told reporters earlier this week.
“There was a lot of energy needed for it, we do not have much time and we have to be ready for the game in three days….I’m glad we demonstrated strength at such matches and adapted their style, we played the best we could and finally got those matches. I hope that against England it will finally be our style of play and our match.”
Modric and Croatia’s midfield, the strength of that team, will be England’s greatest test. However, it’ll be interesting to see how Dalic lines up his stars. If he keeps Modric higher up the pitch, he’ll be able to more effectively able to feed passes into Mario Mandzukic. If he sits farther back, he’ll be able to assist the Croatian defense with the speed of the England counter.
That’s because the back line is Croatia’s biggest concern for Wednesday. It starts in goal, where Danijel Subasic injured his hamstring in the final minutes of his team’s win over Russia. Subasic was able to finish the match and win the penalty shootout, but it’s worth noting his lack of mobility. Croatia could also be without Atletico Madrid fullback Sime Vrsaljko, who left the match against Russia with a knee injury.
England have a fully fit squad for the semifinal, with Jamie Vardy back to training after a knock. England are dealing well with the pressures of home, and could be seen clowning around with a rubber chicken at training on Tuesday.
Jordan Henderson was also a question to play, but Gareth Southgate has confirmed that he’s returned to full fitness.
For England, the match could come down to their greatest strength in the tournament. They’ve scored nearly all their goals in this tournament from set pieces, and that’s exactly what Croatia has struggled with in Russia. That combination could prove deadly for the Croats, who need a plan to deal with Golden Boot candidate Harry Kane.
Kane has six goals so far in the tournament, the highest number in any of the six previous World Cups. No European player has scored seven goals in a World Cup since Poland’s Grzegorz Lato in 2974.
England vs. Croatia Lineups
Lineups are released one hour before kickoff