Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Playing Croatia in semifinal is a harsh reminder for England

Playing Croatia in semifinal is a harsh reminder for England

England last competed in the final four of the World Cup in 1990 when losing on penalties to West Germany.

Croatia progressed to the semi-finals of the World Cup after a second successive penalty shootout on Saturday but their inability to put away another unimpressive team over 90 minutes and extra time is a major worry for the Balkan side.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has said his side have already "managed to stop Messi" and so can cope with England's Harry Kane in Wednesday's semi-final.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is facing a Belgian team that has scored a tournament-leading 14 goals in five matches when they meet in the semi-final in St. Petersburg.

Twice the sides have met in friendlies, with a goalless draw in their first clash in 1996 and England winning 3-1 at Portman Road in 2003.

That came through a Denis Cheryshev first-half curler from outside the box, his fourth goal of the tournament and one of the finest at this World Cup.

But it was not meant to be as Croatia won 4-3 on penalties to advance to a semi-final against England, leaving numerous 48,0000 fans at Sochi's Fisht Stadium in tears.

"I wouldn't say there are any glaring weaknesses (in England's team) since they are in the semi-finals, that says it all".

Mandzukic said the team would not be exhausted after being forced into extra time and penalties by Denmark and Russian Federation in the past two games, and would be doing everything to eclipse the Croatian team from 1998 which lost in the last four against hosts France.

After once again starring as Real won a fourth Champions League crown in five seasons by beating Liverpool in Kiev in May, Modric will be nearly assured of winning the Ballon d'Or if he can lead Croatia all the way to improbable World Cup glory.

Modric has been on the front line in painful past failures for the national team, missing a penalty in a shootout as Croatia lost to Turkey in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.

"We know where we are, we know we're not the finished article and I don't think we have loads of world class players".

"Until five or six years ago I was bit vain, and in a way glad that in 1998 we set the bar so high that it was hard to even contemplate, let alone jump over it".

"Playing Brazil was a useful test for Croatia".

"We did win. Most importantly, they won for us, for the whole country".

"Putin called me during the day, and he called me right now", Cherchesov said.

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