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Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018: Finally, England and Croatia have to banish semifinal blues

Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018: Finally, England and Croatia have to banish semifinal blues

"We were not certain what this team might be capable of", Southgate admitted to ITV, mindful of England's many recent failures.

But that's not all Timberlake did to show his support for England as it takes on Croatia in the World Cup semifinal Wednesday.

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

He said: "The feel of this group of players is very similar to the players we had then".

That allowed Croatia to reach the semi-finals for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France, which was their first as an independent nation. England will be looking to build on a string of confident performances, while Croatia will wonder if they have anything left in the tank after going to penalty kicks in two straight matches.

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic thinks the spirit that carried the team through those tense knockout matches will stand it in good stead against England, which is hoping to beat two European nations at a World Cup for the first time since 1982.

"We've defended well, scored in the last minute, conceded in the last minute, come through extra-time and penalties".

Harry Kane has to lead the group from the front, and now has a great chance of ending the tournament as the golden boot victor. In the other four games, Croatia's only variable to its 4-2-3-1 formation was whether to start captain Luka Modric in a deep midfield role and Andrej Kramaric more advanced, or to move up Modric and start Marcelo Brozovic.

England have already won a shootout in Russian Federation, against Colombia in the last 16.

"Gareth's sideline style has meant our waistcoats are really scoring with our customers, with sales doubling since the World Cup began", said a spokeswoman for retailer Marks & Spencer.

Southgate had all 23 of his players available with Jordan Henderson seemingly overcoming tight hamstring and Jamie Vardy, who was feared to have played this last game in Russian Federation with a groin injury.

England's 11 goals so far are equal to the country's record of most goals at a single World Cup set back in 1966, when they won the title.

"Hopefully he'll have a quiet game tomorrow and we'll do our best to keep him quiet".

Strong, mobile, indefatigable and good in the air, Mandzukic looks to make life as hard as possible for the defence, stretching play to allow the likes of Modric the space they need to get into the danger zone around the box.

In the latest in a series of controversies, former worldwide Ognjen Vukojevic was kicked out of their delegation on Monday and fined by Federation Internationale de Football Association for posting a pro-Ukraine video clip following their penalty shootout victory over Russia on Saturday.

But the England boss is well aware of the threat that Croatia pose in the centre of the field.


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