All we need to know about the semi-final, Luka Modric is Croatia’s creative pivot and the
effectiveness of Real Madrid playmaker who has scored twice in Russia.
He will be integral to his nation’s hopes of reaching the World Cup Final in Moscow. Even though he missed a crucial spot-kick in the last 2 games, it was he who was driving the team forward in the final few minutes. It’s been a debate everywhere that genius Modric deserves to win the Ballon d’Or this year.
England selected Jordan Henderson as a sole holding midfielder. He will need to be at his turbulent best to prevent the Croatian developing a powerfulness. His uncontrollable performance in the middle of the pitch, while also watching out for those rushing towards forward.
Harry Kane scored three goals for Tottenham Hotspur against Dejan Lovren’s Liverpool last session. Two in a 4-1 victory when a series of errors by the hapless Croatian defender saw him replaced after 31 minutes. Lovren has been a defensive rock for Croatia. He is pretty much confident in this tournament with his partner Domagoj Vida who is capable of playing in any defensive position but is mostly deployed as a centre-back or right fullback. They are looking forward to shackling Kane and prevent him from adding his tally of six goals at the tournament.
Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic is Croatia’s main goal threat and although he has scored only once in Russia. His game is about a lot more than just finding the net. John Stones and his defensive partners Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker will need to be on their toes for the whole game. They are challenging against Croatia’s lone striker, particularly when the ball flies into the area from a set piece.
While the set-piece has been England’s most determined weapon on their run to the semi-finals. And England won a penalty shootout to beat Colombia.
Croatia will feel they have an edge if match remains checkmate after extra time. Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a total of three penalties in Croatia’s shootout to win over Denmark in the round of 16. Another in the quarterfinals as the Vatreni dramatically ousted hosts Russia on penalties.
Croatia is one of the smallest nations in the competition, with a population of just over four million. It has only been an independent state since 1991. And their national team is now on the verge of a historic achievement, with a place in the World Cup final up for grabs if they can beat England on Wednesday.
England is strong in the air perhaps, but on the ground it was awful. Again. I do understand the euphoria in England after all those years of humiliation but hope that they come to their senses after the game against Croatia.