Key battles when Croatia face England in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup
Key battles when Croatia face England in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup:
John Stones vs Mario Mandzukic:
The Manchester City defender has been very impressive in the tournament so far. Stones has not only been composed at the back but has been very helpful and effective in set-pieces. His reading of the game has looked good in Russia and he has managed to lead the three-man defense well so far. On the other hand, Mario Mandzukic hasn’t been able to unleash himself the way we expected him to. He has contributed in Croatia’s success but a player of his caliber is certainly expected to do more. That being said, England cannot write him off and John Stones will have to be very sure that he does not allow the room for Mandzukic to exploite.
Ivan Rakitic vs Jesse Lingard:
Both Rakitic and Lingard have had a very good World Cup so far. Rakitic scored two important penalties under pressure to ensure Croatia beat both Denmark and Russia to progress to the semifinals. With his intelligent passing distribution and understanding of the game, he has been of massive help alongside Luka Modric in the midfield for Croatia(4/1 to win the World Cup). Jesse Lingard on the other hand has been the spark England have needed. His off the ball runs and smart passing have opened up opportunities to attack and the Three Lions will be expecting him to do the same against Croatia. It will be a strong battle between Lingard and Rakitic as both the players are heavily involved in the midfield for their respective teams. Rakitic will have to keep an eye on Lingard to ensure the Manchester United midfielder is not allowed to get between the space between the defense and midfield which is likely to open up chances for the Three Lions.
Dejan Lovren vs Harry Kane:
Harry Kane has been the talisman for England (11/4 to win the World Cup)this tournament and although he wasn’t involved in the goals scored against Colombia and Sweden, he is a threat you just cannot ignore. Dejan Lovren has had a good World Cup and he must be well aware of Kane’s capabilities in front of the goal having faced him in the Premier League time and again.Kane can be brutally effective and efficient in the box and Lovren will have to be very sharp in restricting him. Kane is leading the race for the Golden Boot and there is no question that he will be hoping to extend his lead to secure the aware. It is a battle that might as well be very significant when it comes to the outcome of the fixture.