Big Match Breakdown: Croatia v England
Odds, tips and preview for World Cup semi-final
A nation will hold its collective breath later tonight as England take on Croatia in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990.
The Three Lions are bidding to make a first tournament final since winning the Jules Rimet Trophy on home soil in 1966. Zlatko Dalic and Croatia stand in their way after coming through two penalty shootouts against Denmark and Russia to reach this stage.
England beat Colombia and Sweden to reach the semis. Can they complete the mission to Moscow against Luke Modric and co? The Coral News Team look ahead to the game with a Big Match Breakdown.
The two nations have never met at a World Cup. But they do have history at the European Championships. England triumphed 4-2 in 2004 with goals from Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and a Wayne Rooney brace sealing an impressive group stage win.
A brace apiece from Lampard and Steven Gerrard helped the Three Lions to a 5-1 success the last time the countries met in 2009. Yet it’s Croatia’s 3-2 Wembley triumph in 2007 that is best remembered as the defining fixture between the two sides, and one of the darkest days in the national team’s history.
Gareth Southgate is expected to name an unchanged side from the one which comfortably saw off Sweden at the weekend. Midfield pivot Jordan Henderson is the only possible doubt. Should he miss out, Eric Dier would be the obvious replacement.
Valtreni will be without right-back Sime Vrsaljko through injury, which means ex-Tottenham Hotspur man Vedran Corluka will make his second start of the tournament. Marcelo Brozovic could replace Andrej Kramaric to allow Modric to play further forward.
Raheem Sterling’s pace and movement terrified Sweden on Saturday. Expect him to get even more joy against an ageing backline which features 32-year-old Corluka. Harry Kane will be able to feed off that, while Croatia will be aware of the set-piece threat from John Stones and Harry Maguire.
Dalic will be relying on his midfield to pick the Three Lions’ lock. Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Brozovic will need to be monitored, which makes the job of Henderson all the more important. Kieran Trippier may have to limit his attacking intent to stem the threat from Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic.
Big name players have come to the fore for both of these sides in Russia. Kane is the tournament’s current top scorer with six goals. He’s 13/10 to Score Anytime and 16/5 to Score First this evening. Centre-halves Maguire and Stones are priced at 10/1 apiece Anytime.
Modric bagged against Argentina and Nigeria in the group stages and is 4/1 to Net Anytime.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing