Croatia vs. England preview, time, how to watch

Ashley Young England 03072018

"It's been a long season, but you play in a World Cup semi-final once in a lifetime and there's no point giving up now".

"I was not a renowned fashion icon through my playing career so it's rather odd to be one now", Southgate joked.

Southgate has been just the voice of reason England have needed to prevent anyone from getting too carried away.

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.

"It's a massive game for us, we all know that, but there's no need to make it bigger than what it already is".

Their one defeat came against Belgium in their final group game, in a match between two essentially reserve sides.

He will have a central role to play against a Croatia side that relies heavily on the creativity of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Rakitic, who plays for Barcelona.

Monaco goalkeeper Subasic saved three penalties in Croatia's shootout win over Denmark in the round of 16, and another in the quarter-finals as the Vatreni dramatically ousted hosts Russian Federation on penalties.

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For a country with a population of little more than four million, making it all the way to the final would be a remarkable achievement.

This will be England's first meeting with Croatia at a major tournament since the Euro 2004 group stage, when the Three Lions triumphed 4-2.

Meanwhile, social media has been awash with support for the England team with several videos of celebrations following the win over Sweden going viral. But there is less pressure on them now.

Croatia survived two penalty shootouts against Denmark and host Russian Federation to reach the semifinals, the first time it has been at this stage since the famous team of 1998 finished third in France.

Per the Mirror's David McDonnell, Dejan Lovren and Danijel Subasic are doubts for Croatia, but full-back Sime Vrsaljko has been ruled out, according to Robert Cottingham of MailOnline. "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".

Although Croatia are the most hard opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate's words suggest he will continue with his attacking formation and personnel. So we won't win the game just because Croatia had half an hour more football than us three days ago.

"This team is nowhere near the level they're going to be capable of, partly because of their age and partly because over the next few years, with us and with their clubs, they're going to have more and more big-match experiences".

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