Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Lovren ready for Kane test at World Cup

Are Croatia any good at football? World ranking and World Cup record of England opponents Croatia’s Luka Modric
Melinda Barton | 12 July, 2018, 02:50

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals can not be compared to anything", said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

With six goals so far, he is two goals clear of Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku, who he will come face-to-face within Saturday's third-place playoff.

Gareth Southgate has warned that England's semi-final against Croatia will be his side's toughest test at the World Cup so far.

England hasn't advanced to the semi-finals since 1990.

Croatia were a goal down against Denmark in the last 16 and against Russian Federation in the quarter-finals, before equalising and forcing extra time and penalty shootouts. It's Trippier! His first ever England goal.

"We believed in its potential, and I think the games that we've prepared for, we had belief we would win, but there is still pressure in all of those matches, so I'm really pleased with how the team have emerged and developed". I have to dream.

Zlatko Dalic's team are one of the most cohesive units of any team in the tournament.

Croatia is showing the world that their 1998 golden generation - a side that also went to the World Cup semifinal - was not an aberration and that the country can produce top-level soccer talent to compete with the world's best. They topped an extremely hard group that included perennial title contenders Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.

England fans were left devastated as the nation missed out on a place in the World Cup final. Of the four combined knockout games played by these teams, three have ended in penalty shootouts.

Croatia, though, must not be taken lightly.

Now one of these perennially disappointing teams will be in the final of the FIFA World Cup.

Croatia have an experienced squad and will go into the match with the belief of going the distance.

"Croatia have world-class players like Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic, players who are playing in the top clubs".

As the first half progressed, and with England dominant, the opportunity was there to put the game away.

Gareth Southgate's side have now found the net 12 times in Russian Federation to break the record of 11 set by the victorious 1966 side.

England will play Croatia at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium at 7pm United Kingdom time.

A number of players have had an impressive tournament - Kieran Trippier, Harry Kane, Jordan Pickford are among that cohort - but Newcastle United's Jacob Murphy tweeted that, in his eyes, all the players return "heroes".

Kane will be England's main danger with the support of Raheem Sterling, while attacking midfielders like Ali and Jesse Lingard are good enough to trouble any opposition. The couple spent much of the day with Ireland's officials, including President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne, but they made time to meet with some of Ireland's rugby legends as well as dozens of young Gaelic footballers at Croke Park in Dublin.

But he is yet to fully convince and win the trust of everyone, and is still susceptible to occasional errors, highlighted by his stray pass that allowed Russian Federation a chance to go clear on goal in the closing minutes of the quarter-final. But despite his lean numbers, Sterling remains an important part of Gareth Southgate's team with his clever runs from deep that open up rival defences and the chemistry he shares with his fellow forwards.