Friday, 22 February, 2019

Gary Neville's World Cup predictions are very impressive in hindsight

The fan on the bus in Wolverhampton. Video grab Daniel Blasczyk @southwaterbars The fan on the bus in Wolverhampton. Video grab Daniel Blasczyk @southwaterbars
Kristopher Love | 10 July, 2018, 17:53

Kieran Trippier says the support and reaction from fans to England's World Cup campaign at home and in Russian Federation continues to inspire the Three Lions squad.

This will be France's sixth World Cup semi-final; they were beaten in their first three in 1958, 1982 and 1986 just as they had played in the semi-final in 1998 and 2006.

Belgium are the only side to have won every game they have played in Russian Federation on their way to the semi-finals.

Both semi-finals kick off at 20:00 SA time.

But there is a major doubt over the participation of Vrsaljko, who hobbled off with a knee injury in extra-time during the quarter-final win over Russian Federation in Sochi.

On his part, Coach Roberto Martinez will seek to use the "Golden Generation" of Belgium talents under his tutelage to grab one of the final slot for the grand finale at the Luzhniki in Moscow.

This trend has powered the rise of teams that traditionally do not do well in World Cups.

A lack of pace at the back against England, one of the quickest teams at the tournament, would be a big problem.

Croatia have needed penalties to get through the last two rounds against Denmark and hosts Russian Federation while England swept Sweden aside after downing Colombia in a last-16 shoot-out.

This will be a much harder match for England than their previous games, with Croatia's dynamic midfield as well at the back.

Head-to-head the two countries have played seven games with England recording four wins, one draw and two losses.

Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic is hoping his defence can repeat their heroics against Lionel Messi and Christian Eriksen when they face Harry Kane in the World Cup semi-final.

After more goals came from set-pieces in this World Cup's group stage than any other, dead-ball strategy has continued to have a huge impact in the knockout phase, with five of the 11 goals scored in the quarterfinals coming from free kicks or corners. They should beat Croatia.

And so in England, 1966 seems but yesterday and the names of World Cup winners Bobby Moore or Geoff Hurst are present in English hearts and minds.