England look to reach their first World Cup final since 1966.
Croatia v England – Wednesday 11th July, 19:00
Croatia have been held 1-1 after 90 minutes in both their knockout games as they held their nerve to progress via a shoot-out in each. They’ve not played their best football since the group stages but they’re now unbeaten in nine matches in normal time at major tournaments since the start of Euro 2016, so they’ll be a tough nut for England to crack. Indeed, this should prove to be a much tougher challenge for the Three Lions than they had against Sweden and since the start of 2017 they’ve gone W3-D4-L2 against sides ranked inside our top-20 (Croatia 6th). Furthermore, they’re W2-D10-L3 in knockout matches (excluding consolations games) at major tournaments since 1990, suggesting the draw is the best value in the match outcome market.
Of England’s nine matches against top 20 ranked sides since 2017, eight have had fewer than three strikes. The same can be said of Croatia’s four knockout matches at either the World Cup or Euros since 2008 with all four of these going to at least extra-time. Gareth Southgate’s men have seen fewer than three goals in 10 of their last 13 outings overall and when looking at semi-final matches in this competition since 1990, 71% of games have had Under 2.5 Goals, which looks banker material.
Two of the three goals Zlatko Dalic’s side conceded during the knockouts have come from set-piece as Denmark bundled in from a long throw and Russia equalized in extra-time after heading in from a free-kick. No side has been a better exponent of set-pieces than England at this World Cup with eight of their 11 goals coming form dead-ball situations. Three of the five that weren’t penalties were scored by defenders with Harry Maguire often the main target and the Leicester man can make his presence felt once again.