Croatia ace to play through pain barrier against England

Croatia ace to play through pain barrier against England

As World Cup fever builds at home, England are avoiding the hype as coach Gareth Southgate prepares his team in their tranquil base near St. Petersburg for their first semi-final since 1990. And a young, likeable side with an eminently sensible and humble manager in Southgate have captured the hearts of a nation.

Croatia was missing three key players at training on Monday ahead of Wednesday's World Cup semi-final showdown with England.

England forward Harry Kane, who tops the World Cup scorers' list in Russian Federation with six goals, is level with former striker Gary Lineker for most goals scored by an England player at one World Cup.

Their one defeat came against Belgium in their final group game, in a match between two essentially reserve sides.

England's 11 goals so far are equal to the country's record of most goals at a single World Cup set back in 1966, when they won the title.

"But we enjoy to play against big teams, as we showed against Argentina, and have nothing to lose". England is also one of the favourites to win the World Cup and you need to respect that.

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While Croatian players, who have been asked constantly about the generation of 1998 and never fail to express their admiration for the likes of Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker, those comparisons are a weight they feel is unneeded.

Although Croatia are the most hard opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate has suggested he will stick to his gameplan.

Per the Mirror's David McDonnell, Dejan Lovren and Danijel Subasic are doubts for Croatia, but full-back Sime Vrsaljko has been ruled out, according to Robert Cottingham of MailOnline.

But Southgate thinks talk of that handing a physical advantage to England is being overplayed.

"Any team in a World Cup semi-final is going to find the energy and going to find the motivation".

"We'll just have to assess people as we go. We've got to win because we play better".

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