Monday, 22 July, 2019

England vs Croatia: Gareth Southgate's starting XI 'revealed'

Gareth Southgate GETTYGareth Southgate has been trying to sell the team a vision of what’s possible
Cary Erickson | 10 July, 2018, 17:26

The squad fly out to the Russian capital, Moscow, on Tuesday afternoon for their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

Alli will be part of the England side heading to Saint Petersburg on Wednesday for their crucial World Cup semi-final clash against Croatia.

While England enjoyed a relatively stress-free 2-0 win over Sweden in the last eight, Croatia had to come through a gruelling extra time against hosts Russian Federation and then a penalty shootout.

Despite a comfortable run through their group, Croatia has had a tougher ride in the knockout rounds, needing extra time and penalties to eliminate both Denmark in the round of 16 and then hosts Russian Federation in the last four.

The pair will battle again on Wednesday, and Alli has told The Guardian that he hopes to embarrass Modric again with another nutmeg on the global stage this time - but his focus will be on attempting to help England reach the World Cup final.

In total the two sides have played each other seven times, with England notching four wins to Croatia's two. Do you feel we need some extra steel in midfield to combat the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic?

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The Liverpool midfielder was taken off five minutes from the end of the last-eight victory over Sweden at the weekend due to a tight hamstring.

The England captain, who has not scored from open play since England's rout of Panama in their second group match, does not have the lightning speed that would expose the lack of pace in the Croatian central defence.

In contrast, Zlatko Dalic's team has been sharing the goals out fairly evenly, with main striker Mario Mandzukic having hit the back of the net just once so far.

Gareth Southgate's side's potency from set-pieces was certainly on the minds of Croatia after they were forced into penalties by Russian Federation.

England face Croatia at 7pm BST on Wednesday night at the Luzhniki Stadium, with the winners to meet either Belgium or France in the final on Sunday.