Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

England vs Croatia: Southgate hopes England avoid semi-final stage fright

England vs Croatia: Southgate hopes England avoid semi-final stage fright

"All of that work is great but you really have to achieve at senior level for all of that to be fulfilled and we've got a great opportunity now to reach the final".

England too left Italy 28 years ago feeling that the team featuring Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne could have gone all the way. "But we have nothing to lose, we will enjoy this game, and hopefully we can write history", said defender Dejan Lovren, of Premier League side Liverpool.

"In the first period of extra-time, I felt real fatigue in my knee".

But on Monday, defender Ashley Young was quick to dismiss it's significance.

Meanwhile, social media has been awash with support for the England team with several videos of celebrations following the win over Sweden going viral. Not what's happened in the past.

The contribution of Raheem Sterling remains a polarising debate in England with the Manchester City player without a goal for his country since October, 2015 but Southgate says the forward's contribution in Russian Federation has been essential. They were completely out on their feet late against Russian Federation.

24 April 1996, friendly: England 0-0 CroatiaNiko Kovac of Croatia celebrates with teammate Robert Kovac after beating England 3-2 in a Group E Euro 2008 Qualifying game.

They had won just one knockout match at a major tournament in 16 years before coming to Russian Federation, a 1-0 victory against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Fun and light-heartedness has been a running thread throughout England's World Cup campaign, which sees them face their first semi-final since 1990 at the Luzhniki Stadium.

The Three Lions' only worldwide title is the 1966 World Cup victory on home soil.

Croatia, on the other hand, did not have easy wins this World Cup.

England are the holders of the Federation Internationale de Football Association U17 World Cup and Federation Internationale de Football Association U20 World Cup - and are just two wins away from making it a unique hat-trick. They are unbeaten so far in the tournament.

For every England match in Russia, Southgate has donned a waistcoat provided by Marks and Spencer, the official tailor to the England team.

Midfielder Luka Modric is Croatia's top scorer in the tournament with two goals.

Kane, who tops the Golden Boot standings in Russian Federation, had already scored and assisted as Spurs recorded a 4-1 victory in October.

England and Croatia have set up an unexpected semifinal clash.

Henderson has not lost on any of his last 30 appearances for the Three Lions, a new record for the national team.

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

The goalkeeper struggled with a muscle injury during Croatia's quarter-final victory over Russia, Subasic needing treatment in extra-time before a heroic performance in the penalty shoot-out.

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