9th of July 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
The second semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup takes place on Wednesday at Luzhniki Arena in Moscow where Croatia take on England for a place in the final. The two teams have last met during the qualification campaign for the 2010 World Cup and at that time England demolished Croatia 4-1 in Zagreb and 5-1 in London. In fact, that was a much-desired revenge for the English after Croatia had denied them qualification to the 2008 European Championshiop with a 3-2 victory at Wembley after a 2-0 triumph in Zagreb. The two teams have also met in the group stage at Euro 2004 and back then England won 4-2. England have not reached the World Cup final since 1966, when they also won the trophy, while Croatia have never managed to play a World Cup final.
Croatia went through lots of thrills during the knockout phase of the 2018 World Cup after a pretty straightforward group stage. They have won all their three group matches, including an impressive 3-1 victory over Argentina, but then had to go through penalty shoot-outs both against Denmark in the first knockout round and against Russia in the quarter-finals. They came very close to wrapping up both of those matches in extra time, against Denmark Luka Modric missed a penalty kick on 116 minutes while against Russia the Croatians had a 2-1 lead until the 115th minute. Sime Vrsaljko limped off the pitch during extra time against Russia and might be forced to miss the semi-final match.
England have finally reached a semi-final again after a 28-year wait, even though they finished second in their group. In fact, finishing second might have been good for the English because they avoided playing Brazil in the quarter-finals and played Sweden instead, a team which they defeated 2-0 with goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli. In the first knockout round England needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Colombia, Harry Kane had opened the scoring in the second half but then England conceded a stoppage-time goal which sent the match into extra time. Kyle Walker, Dele Alli and Ashely Young all had minor injuries before the quarter-final match but they have recovered in time, but Jordan Henderson and Jamie Vardy remain injury doubts. If Henderson won't be able to play then manager Gareth Southgate will probably choose between Eric Dier and Fabian Delph for the central midfield role.
Croatia: Subasic - Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic - Rakitic, Brozovic - Rebic, Modric, Perisic - Mandzukic
England: Pickford - Walker, Stones, Maguire - Trippier, Alli, Henderson, Lingard, Young - Kane, Sterling
My prediction: 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, England will probably take the lead again but won't be able to hold it.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Croatia win - 3.50
Draw - 3.10
England win - 2.37
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