Croatia vs England
Competition: 2018 World Cup finals
Date: 11 July 2018
Kick-off: 20:00 CET
Starter in all five matches thus far in the World Cup finals in Russia, right-back Sime Vrsaljko is out. The Atlético Madrid man got injured in extra-time against Russia, in the quarterfinal, had to get substituted, underwent tests 24 hours before the semifinal, and not only it was decided that he won’t be part of this game, but he’s not even sure of making it on time to play in the final, if Croatia make it there. Zlatko Dalic’s team was one of the only three that won all three group matches. In the knock-our stages, they conceded first both against Denmark and Russia, but both times managed to respond, and qualify on penalties. Versus Russia, in the quarterfinal, they were the better team, but still needed their goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic, to perform some.. heroics in the penalty shootout to qualify for the semifinal. Be reminded, Croatia reached the World Cup semifinals in 1998, in France, in what was their first appearance ever in finals. Back then, they had to settle for a spot in the third-place game. This is their golden opportunity to go further than ever before, a possibly once in… decades opportunity to play in a World Cup final.
The Croatians haven’t seen their national team go that far in a big competition since 1998. England haven’t reached the last 4 of World Cup finals since 1990. If they win, they will play their second final ever, after the one in 1966, which they won, at home, over – back then – West Germany. Unlike Dalic, Gareth Southgate has all his players at his disposal. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (absolutely spectacular against Sweden in the quarterfinal), central midfielder Jordan Henderson and center-forward Jamie Vardy have shaken off some minor problems and all three trained properly the day before the game. Unlike Croatia, England lost a game in the group stage, the… weird one against Belgium in which both teams played with several reserves. They have definitely been more convincing than Croatia in the knock-out stages though. They did need penalties to eliminate Colombia, but they only got equalized in added time of regular time. Against Sweden in the quarterfinal, they made things look easy (1-0 at halftime, 2-0 before the 60-minute mark).
Previous five matches:
Russia vs Croatia 2-2
Croatia vs Denmark 1-1
Iceland vs Croatia 1-2
Argentina vs Croatia 0-3
Croatia vs Nigeria 2-0
Sweden vs England 0-2
Colombia vs England 1-1
England vs Belgium 0-1
England vs Panama 6-1
Tunisia vs England 1-2
The winner of this semifinal will face the winner of the other semifinal between France and Belgium. The defeated will play for the third place against the defeated of the other semifinal.
Croatia vs England: Head to head Stats
Croatia and England have met seven times in the past, the English have won four games, two have gone Croatia’s way, and one has ended in a draw. Total goals, 18-10 for England. They have never played against each other in World Cup finals before. Last time they met was in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. Back then, England triumphed 4-1 in Croatia(!), and 5-1(!) back home.
Croatia vs England: Prediction
England are considered favorites to win the game in 90 minutes, and even bigger favorites to qualify. I agree with that, feeling that this group of players has an admirable combination of quality and maturity to beat a serious opponent like Croatia.
Croatia vs England: Betting Tips
I expect England not just to qualify, but to do so without needing extra-time or penalties. Their win pays 2.35, going up to 4.33 if combined with over 2.5 goals (suiting my 1-2 hunch). “Kane to score anytime” is at 2.25. Last, England’s qualification pays 1.61.