Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Matthew Castillo

Croatia play down fatigue fears as they eye England scalp

Croatia play down fatigue fears as they eye England scalp

England insist that they will not abandon their front-foot approach against Croatia as Gareth Southgate considers selecting an unchanged side for the country's biggest match in 28 years.

"We want to continue in the same style that we have been playing until now", he said.

Meanwhile, the last two games for Croatia, against Denmark and Russian Federation, ended the same: with Croatia winning in penalties.

The most-cherished national team memory remains the 1966 World Cup final victory at Wembley over West Germany, a demarcation point in the island's history as much as 1066 (the Norman invasion) and 1707 (union with Scotland). Croatia cruised through their group without a loss but needed penalty kicks to defeat both Denmark and Russian Federation in back-to-back games in the knockout stage.

"It was a long time ago, so not too many of us can remember that far back, " said midfielder Jordan Henderson, born in 1990.

Southgate said he was convinced that win or lose on Wednesday, his team have a bright future after decades of English under-achievement on the global stage.

"They've got players all around the squad that are going to be hard opponents".

The flag is likely to make another appearance in the Luzhniki Stadium tonight when Croatia take on England in the World Cup semi-final.

Kane is England's trump card, but he has been feeding off scraps in this tournament and has done so well to come up with six goals from a combination of penalties and scrappy finishes in the box.

The victor Wednesday advances to Sunday's final against France. It's completely irrelevant, that 4-1 defeat. "We know what's at stake and at such moments you forget fatigue you may feel because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity - it may never repeat itself again".

"I am perfectly ready and fit and I can say the same for my team-mates".

Fears of violence and racism ahead of the World Cup, bolstered by memories of clashes between England and Russian Federation fans Marseille during the European Championship in France in 2016, may have put supporters off travel to Russian Federation for the tournament. "It will be an attacking game with goals as both teams can't really defend, but it is unlikely to be three shoot-outs in a row for Croatia". Ask Justin Timeberlake, and he'll tell you the same thing.

Modric started that match at Wembley and remains integral to Croatia's game 11 years later, the captain having been widely hailed as one of the best players at the finals in Russian Federation. "You are just nitpicking at my poor performances".

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