Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sport | By Victor Mcdonald

Southgate hopes England avoid semi-final stage fright

Southgate hopes England avoid semi-final stage fright

"We were not certain what this team might be capable of", Southgate admitted to ITV, mindful of England's many recent failures.

Croatia & England will meet on Wednesday evening, with a place in the World Cup finals on the line. It is the 2006 World Cup and we are playing Spain in the round of 16, a knockout match. If we are right collectively and defensively then individuals don't matter.

For all of the hype around England, they have yet to come up against one of the really big guns at the World Cup.

A similarly masterful performance from the 32-year-old could spell the end of England's World Cup hopes in what is set to be a hard game for both sides.

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.

They beat Tunisia in their tournament opener thanks to a late Harry Kane goal, brushed aside a poor Panama, edged out Colombia on penalties and easily beat Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Croatia stand in their way tonight in what is the biggest game in English football for nearly 30 years.

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However, Kane's partner in attack, Raheem Sterling, has pace to burn and England's totem will be on hand to benefit if that causes problems for the Croatians.

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". After winning Group D, Croatia beat Denmark and Russian Federation in penalty kicks to get to this point, while England knocked out Colombia in the round of 16 in penalties before taking down Sweden in the quarterfinals. "I feel they're a fantastic team, working for each other and together, which is why they're in a semifinal of a World Cup". - England has scored 11 goals at this year's World Cup, tying its record from the victorious 1966 tournament.

Juventus striker Mandzukic is Croatia's main goal threat and although he has only scored once in Russian Federation, his game is about a lot more than just finding the net.

"I've played against Modric a few times, he's probably one of the best players I've played against", said Henderson. Hopefully he has a quiet night [on Wednesday] and we'll try our best to make sure that happens.

"We're really proud in the style that we've played, with the intelligence that we've played, and that we've performed under pressure and dealt with hard situations in games where we've had to wait until the last minute to score, we've had to recover from conceding in last minute, we've been through extra time, penalties".

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

The captain was the man of the match again in the penalty shootout win over Russian Federation in Sochi at the weekend.

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