England vs Croatia: Southgate hopes England avoid semi-final stage fright

Gareth Southgate

GETTYGareth Southgate has been trying to sell the team a vision of what’s possible

The Karrinyup father of two, who moved here from England 20 years ago, has watched every single World Cup game since 1982.

While the set piece has been England's most decisive weapon on their run to the semi-finals, and they won a penalty shootout to beat Colombia, Croatia will feel they have the edge if the match remains deadlocked after extra time. England also have the World Cup's top-scorer in Harry Kane, who has six to his name so far.

Vida has quietly been one of the standout performers at this World Cup, and Croatia will be relieved he avoided a suspension for a rather ill-advised video published online after the win over Russian Federation.

Right back Sime Vrsaljko limped off during the quarterfinal win over host Russian Federation and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic had a hamstring injury during extra time but remained in the match.

With 14 goals in his last 11 games for England, Kane will not be short of confidence as he searches for his seventh World Cup goal, which would be the most scored by anyone at a single tournament since Ronaldo in 2002.

Take a look at our top three England v Croatia predictions below. Kane was quiet in the victory over Sweden, but the Spurs striker will be looking to add a goal to his tally to fire the Three Lions to World Cup glory.

As reported by ESPN FC on Monday, the inflatable unicorn races in the swimming pool at England's Repino base, as well as the Fortnite competitions, darts and 10-pin bowling, have turned this World Cup campaign into what Ashley Young described as a "holiday".

England have already won a shootout in Russian Federation, against Colombia in the last 16.

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Not the threat of Croatia, Luka Modric's ability to carve open the best defences in the world or even Raheem Sterling's ongoing search for his first goal of the tournament.

"We have seen how strong England are at set-pieces and we will have to do better because against Russian Federation we conceded a goal like that".

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

"I've played against Modric a few times, he's probably one of the best players I've played against", said Henderson.

But he is certainly well aware of the threat that Croatia pose in the center of the field.

If Vrsaljko is ruled out then Dalic has two options, either bringing in specialist right-back Tin Jedvaj, who played against Iceland, or the more probable option of moving Domagoj Vida to right-back and bringing in the experienced Vedran Corluka to pair Dejan Lovren at centre back.

Monaco goalkeeper Subasic saved three penalties in Croatia's shootout win over Denmark in the round of 16, and another in the quarter-finals as the Vatreni dramatically ousted hosts Russian Federation on penalties.

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