Luzhniki Stadium – World Cup Semi-Finals
Surprise packages Croatia and England go head-to-head in the second World Cup semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday evening. The Croats have never reached a World Cup final while it’s 52 years since England made it that far.
England and Croatia have met seven times in international football and the former have the best record winning four of the fixtures. The two last met during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, with England winning 4-1 in Zagreb and 5-1 in London.
Croatia should have Danijel Subasic between the posts again even though he picked up an injury during the quarter-final tie with Russia. The Monaco man stayed on the pitch and ended up saving a penalty kick in their shoot-out win. England may have Jamie Vardy available from the bench again after his recent groin problem.
Croatia v England Preview and Predictions
Croatia go into Wednesday’s semi-final match as the outsiders despite a confident campaign so far. Zlatko Dalic’s side are at 13/5 to win inside 90 minutes but have impressed in Russia and remain unbeaten in their five games. But Croatia have been taken all the way to penalty kicks in their two knockout games against the Danes and the Russians. They’ll be hoping fatigue doesn’t catch up with them in Moscow. Either team to win on spot kicks is at 4/1.
England banished their penalty shoot-out woes of the past by knocking out Colombia, before cruising past Sweden in the last eight. They’re priced at 11/8 to win in normal time but Croatia will be the toughest test so far for Gareth Southgate’s men. The Three Lions are 13/19 to make it to the final.
Harry Kane remains the frontrunner to claim the Golden Boot. His six-goal tally is two more than his nearest rivals and it’s no surprise that he’s the favourite to break the deadlock against Croatia, at best odds of 71/20. England have been dangerous from all set pieces at this tournament so it may be worth backing one of the centre backs to net, too. Harry Maguire is at 35/1 to score first, with John Stones at 40/1.
Harry Maguire to score first at 35/1
The Leicester City defender has been teased for having a large head, but he put it into good use by notching against Sweden. He’ll be another big threat from corner kicks.
Luka Modric to be man of the match at 8/1
Modric is clearly indispensable in this Croatia team and if they’re to reach the final, it will likely hinge on this man’s performance.