FIFA 2018 World Cup: England vs Croatia, Combined XI
FIFA 2018 World Cup: England vs Croatia, Combined XI
Old foes England and Croatia battle it out in the second semi-final as history awaits one of them. It’s been over five decades since these sides made it to the World Cup final, while Croatia didn’t even exist as an independent nation in their last appearance in the showpiece clash.
So emotions are palpably high as there’s plenty at stakes here; it’s a final before the final for the proverbial underdogs.
Here’s a combined XI of the best names from England and Croatia:
Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic
Croatia (4/1 to win the World Cup) haven’t been as scintillating in the knockout rounds as they were in the group stages. But thanks to Subasic, they’re into the semis regardless. The Vatreni goalkeeper has come up trumps in both the shootouts so far, making three saves against Denmark and the another one against Russia. From the open play, he’s made another 12 saves in 4 appearances with an admirable success rate of 81%.
Centre-back: Dejan Lovren
Lovren and defensive blunders once went hand in hand, but the Liverpool centre-back has established a considerable measure of solidity in his game, that has now transcended into the Croatian colours too. He’s been excellent at the back, winning the ball back in dangerous positions and throwing his bulky frame in the way of the shots. Lovren was at his peak in the last 8, winning 10 aerial duels and also making 7 clearances – both of which were the highest he registered in a single game in this competition.
Centre-back: Domagoj Vida
Vida has had a terrific campaign with Croatia so far, icing the cake with another battling display in the previous clash against Russia. He communicated well with other defenders and marshalled the backline with 2 interceptions, 3 clearances as well as winning 4 aerial duels. His best bit of the game though, came at the other end of the field when he headed Croatia in front in the first half of the extra-time, before getting on target in the shootout as well.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire
Maguire wasn’t a sureshot starter coming into the tournament, but by this stage, it’s unthinkable for England (11/4 to win the World Cup) to start without him. The Leicester City defender has been so immense; he’s one of the few consistent performers and turned in a match of the match display against Sweden, winning 10 aerial duels and also making 6 clearances, both of which were highest by an England player. He also headed the Three Lions in front by connecting well to Ashley Young’s cross.
Right midfielder: Kevin Trippier
Trippier is another player who’s starting spot wasn’t assured, but Southgate knew he’s too talented to be left on the bench and hence played him in the midfield with Kyle Walker at the right-back. The decision has certainly been a coup de maitre, with the Spur star linking up brilliantly with the attack and also assuming the set-piece responsibilities through which he’s already laid an assist. His 13 key passes are also the highest in the team.
Central midfielder: Luka Modric
Croatia’s talisman for the competition, Modric is still the leading scorer of his side with 2 goals and also assisted Vida against Russia in the last 8 with a well taken free-kick. He’s the vital cog that has kept the Croatian juggernaut running, breaking up opposition play and laying crisp passes – he boasts an incredible accuracy of 86% whilst also averaging almost 3 key passes per game.
Central midfielder: Ivan Rakitic
Modric’s partner-in-crime, Rakitic has been the other star performer for Croatia. He has worked in sync with Rebic and Mandzukic upfront and also drove the ball out with intent. He’s been crucial at the back too, jumping into tackles and also making vital clearances. Rakitic averages exactly 2 tackles per game and one interception, both of which are the joint-highest in the team.
Central midfielder: Dele Alli
Alli’s scoring prowess lost steam last season, though he was more involved creatively. At Russia though, he’s underwhelmed overall before finally getting off the mark against Sweden for his first strike in the competition. He also laid a key pass, though his rather surprise contribution was the 4 tackles he won, joint-highest in the game.
Left midfielder: Ashley Young
Southgate’s 3-1-4-2 formation has seen another fullback in Young being pushed upfield, and he too, has been brilliant for the Three Lions. He assisted Maguire for the opener against Sweden and also laid one key pass. He’s been an excellent overlap to the attack from the left while he’s also tracked back to help out in the defense. He ranks second in the team with an average of one interception per game amongst players with minimum of 4 appearances.
Striker: Harry Kane
Leading scorer in the Golden Boot race, Kane is yet to showcase his ruthless self despite striking 6 times so far. For three of them have been from the spots and one was a fortuitous effort. But as long as it’s helping the Three Lions progress, they wouldn’t mind. Kane was relatively silent against Sweden, failing to muster a single shot on target. He needs to find his shooting boots again and a World Cup semi-final is the best opportunity to do the same.
Striker: Mario Mandzukic
It’s hasn’t particularly been a competition for the strikers, and Mario Mandzukic perfectly embodies the same. The Juventus star only has a solitary goal and assist to show for his efforts in 4 appearances. But both of those offensive contributions have come in the knockout games. So he’s peaking at the right time, and that’s holds Croatia in a good stead.