England will feature the World Cup semi-final for the first time in 28 years following a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday afternoon. They will take on the likes of Croatia four days later in Moscow as the European hopefuls are set to table each other for the final.
Harry Maguire and Dele Alli had combined only two international goals in their England careers before the quarter-final tie with Sweden. However, they were just the ones who headed the Three Lions into the semi-final, Leicester’s defender opening the scoring at the half-hour mark, Spurs’ midfielder doubling the lead just before the hour mark.
Gareth Southgate will certainly need Pickford at his best against Croatia who can be lethal up front. The Blazers may not have a star striker such as Harry Kane, but goals can literally come from anywhere when you are up against them.
The star-studded centre of the park, led by the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, is team’s strongest weapon, but players like Ante Rebic, Ivan Perisic, Mario Mandzukic and Andrej Kramaric are all well capable of hurting any defense in the world.
On paper, Croatia may look vulnerable at the back with Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida in the heart of the defensive line, but this duo has already proven quality by stopping both Lionel Messi (in the group) and Christian Eriksen (in the last 16 round).
The winner in this tie will face France in the final on Sunday. France beat Belgium 1:0 the only goal scored by Samuel Umtiti.
Head to head
England will certainly remember that painful rainy night in November 2007 when they needed only a single point in the final qualifier on the home patch to secure a place at EURO 2008.
Croatia, who have already secured the qualification earlier on, picked up a shocking 2-3 victory, helping Russia to travel at a major on the expense or England.
The most recent history, however, belongs to the Three Lions who scored as many as nine goals in two demolishing victories over the Blazers in the 2010 World Cup Qualifications (4-1 and 5-1).
Overall, England won four, drew one and lost two of seven H2H games against Croatia.