SEMIFINAL #2: ENGLAND vs. CROATIA

DJnVa

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England, led by Harry Kane plays Croatia, led by the wonderful Luka Modric. Both worthy teams, but only one can move on. England has waves of players you *think* will be able to find their way through the Croatian defense (Sit down Raheem) but they're doing their damage through set plays. Croatia is going to have to find a way to play smart defense, not concede easy corners or free kicks in dangerous areas then try to hit the on the counter, or gain enough possession so Modric can control the midfield and ping passes to pick apart the English defense, taking advantage of someone like Kyle Walker and his sometimes overly aggressive play.

No matter where we end up though, the 4 teams left have the quality to give us 3 amazing games.



I think this is going to be a barn burner, but English quality will win out in the end, probably with a game winner scored by someone that plays for Tottenham.




A cool theme ("It's Coming Home") with the worst video:

 

candylandriots

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I am not wearing any nice clothing around any English fans this week, based on their great desire to throw beer in the air that I have noticed lately.
 

Zososoxfan

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I have been a bit underwhelmed by Croatia during the KO rounds. Getting by Denmark and then Russia on PKs is not inspiring. I understand that both opponents were setup defensively and played physically, but for all their skill and talent, they have not looked terribly coherent since the Argentina match. The squad may also be exhausted by the extra match time from back to back PKs and I don't like their lack of depth.

Compare this to the English who have decent depth and look much fitter. It's possible that Sweden is significantly worse than Russia and Denmark, but I'd guess that Colombia may be the best out of those 4 opponents. England should be the team taking the initiative against Croatia and their attack is creative enough to generate some opportunities. That will leave some more space for Croatia who will hurt England on the counter if they get the chance. Mandzukic is still very good and Perisic and Kramaric can finish.

If England can avoid conceding a lead after 60-70 minutes, I like their chances. They need to stay aggressive and bring the game to Croatia without getting unbalanced. Croatia need to play conservatively and find the gaps that the English will leave and possibly pounce on unforced errors. Croatia need to avoid chasing the match late as the English are fitter.

2-1 England in Extra Time.
 
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Nuf Ced

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" I think this is going to be a barn burner, but English quality will win out in the end, probably with a game winner scored by someone that plays for Leicester City."

;)
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I don't see how Croatia can run with England for 90 minutes. Then again, it really feels like something English-y needs to happen to make this World Cup complete.

Or maybe the whole thing will get shut down when China gets an injunction on "it's coming home."*

*For the record, I have no idea about the veracity of the various claims to the invention of football, but assume that since China invented everything centuries before those who otherwise take credit, the same must be true of soccer.
 

Zososoxfan

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Key things I will be watching today:
  • Does Vrsalko start? If he does, he will get tested early by Sterling and Young. If he doesn't start, that likely means Vida goes out wide and Corluka comes in at CB and Vida will get tested. I also remember Strinic coming off, but I think that was a cramp and not injury.
  • With an aggressive setup, England can give Modric a lot of defensive attention. Lingard and Hendo can press him constantly and try to press Croatia into turnovers. But much like Belgium yesterday, if they do this without netting one early, it could be costly because of spending so much energy.
  • Will England have one of Trippier/Young stay home more to avoid Croatia's dangerous wings getting in behind? Modric can pick out long balls better than anyone I can remember since Pirlo.
  • Can Modric and Rakitic hold their own against a crowded England MF? If Croatia can't relieve pressure, it could be a real problem for them. How far back will the attacking mids (Perisic, Kramaric, and Rebic) track back? Will Mandzukic get isolated?
I want England's pressure and attacking side to have success against this fairly stodgy (but resilient and skilled) Croatia team. However, Croatia has enough talent and England has enough baggage that I can see Croatia nipping this. Nevertheless, I think England's fitness and depth carries the day, 2-1 to the Brits.
 

singaporesoxfan

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I want England's pressure and attacking side to have success against this fairly stodgy (but resilient and skilled) Croatia team. However, Croatia has enough talent and England has enough baggage that I can see Croatia nipping this. Nevertheless, I think England's fitness and depth carries the day, 2-1 to the Brits.
As someone who’s supported England since that 1986 team, this World Cup has brought a ton of things I’d never thought I’d read: “England’s finesse and depth”, “England win on penalties”
 

SocrManiac

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Is it safe to assume an England loss today would more thoroughly devastate the country than the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic combined?
 

Zomp

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Is it safe to assume an England loss today would more thoroughly devastate the country than the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic combined?
Funny I kind of feel the opposite. I think the team is playing with house money now and even if they lose they'll be looked at more fondly than teams of the past.
 

InstaFace

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I'm just hoping for Dele Alli not Neymaring around out there, and as I'm rooting for England, no questionable penalty calls.

Croatia has the advantage in midfield and should have a majority of possession, but England has far better finishing. Vardy on fresh for the last 30 minutes should give terror to the likes of Lovren.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Funny I kind of feel the opposite. I think the team is playing with house money now and even if they lose they'll be looked at more fondly than teams of the past.
Might depend on how they lose. (If they do.) I'm close to ready to believe the narrative that this team is different but sports is funny.

Modric scores a brace and they hang on with resolute defending to win 2-1 and England still return heroes. Pickford howler in extra time leading to a 2-2 result and a penalty shootout loss when Sterling puts one over the bar? Well, they are who we thought they were.
 

swiftaw

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I think if they were playing a traditional powerhouse (Germany, Spain, etc) they would return heroes no matter what happened today since they would be expected to get beat, but I think there is many people who think we are a better team that Croatia so losing to them would be seen as a disappointment.
 

swiftaw

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I wasn't nervous for the previous rounds but I'm having a hard time trying to work while waiting for this one.

Flying to Hong Kong for vacation this weekend, if England make the final, I'll have to find a way to stay up and watch it once I land.
 

Ale Xander

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Bring it home, lads. Already rooting for you 2 games in a row, which I've never done, but let's make it 3.
 

Nick Kaufman

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I'm just hoping for Dele Alli not Neymaring around out there, and as I'm rooting for England, no questionable penalty calls.

Croatia has the advantage in midfield and should have a majority of possession, but England has far better finishing. Vardy on fresh for the last 30 minutes should give terror to the likes of Lovren.
I actually think that the English midfield matches up pretty well against the Croats, they just don't know what to do with the ball. So maybe there's a stalemate?
 

Kliq

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Perfect angle from Trippier; keeper never had a chance with the size of that wall.
 

Kliq

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Credit to Lingard; who had a great first touch and got the ball over to Dele to draw the foul.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Couldn't be better for England. Croatia chasing the game after those two long games is going to be pretty difficult I think.
 

Catcher Block

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I like the England plan of attack. Keep trying to send Sterling in behind. Keep Croatia always looking over their shoulder.

When Sterling collapses at the half, bring on Vardy to keep doing the same thing.
 

teddykgb

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I honestly never realized how one footed Young is until this tournament. He does everything possible to avoid going wide down the left.