Manchester United stars ready for World Cup Semifinal as England take on Croatia – ratings vs Sweden!


Four Manchester United players could feature for England tonight against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup Semifinal. I preview the country’s first in 28 years, as well as casting an eye on a few performances in the quarterfinal against Sweden.

With just over an hour to go until kickoff many England fans, including myself, are very nervous at the prospect of their country being 90 minutes away from a World Cup Final.

Only six of England’s 23-man squad were alive to see the last time their country reached this stage. Therefore for a number of young England fans, this is already unchartered territory.

But what if they could go one step further? They would write their names in the history books as England’s second most successful team of all time. However, the way Gareth Southgate has picked the nation up out of the ashes after Euro 2016 and the Sam Allardyce debacle, has been truly remarkable.

What to expect from England’s opponents Croatia?

Croatia have really impressed so far this tournament. And similarly to Southgate, manager Zlatko Dalic has done an incredible job. His team were on the verge of elimination from the qualifiers when he took over in October.

Croatia have many top quality European players in their side who will punish you if you give them chances. Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic to name a few.

The red and white checks have looked most dangerous on the break in their matches so far. Four out of their seven goals in the group stages were scored in the last 20 minutes. A period most likely when teams were chasing the game and leaving space in behind for the likes of Perisic.

England could get exposed to this as they play wing-backs in Tripper and Young who both like to attack high up the pitch.
England could get exposed to this as they play wing-backs in Tripper and Young who both like to attack high up the pitch. /

Croatia also use the height of Mandzukic and put plenty of crosses into the box. Southgate may want to man-mark the Juventus striker with Leicester City centre-half Harry Maguire. Maguire has won more ariel duels than any other defender at this World Cup (33).

As much as they pose a threat going forward, Croatia do look weak on cross balls. Iceland hit the bar and forced a good save from the keeper in their group stage match. Denmark opened the scoring in the Last 16 tie after a long throw-in pinballed around the box. And most recently Russia scored an extra-time equaliser from a free kick to take their quarterfinal to penalties.

Eight of England’s 11 goals so far this tournament have come from set-pieces, therefore they pose a real threat to Croatia from corners and free-kicks whipped into the box.

England’s Manchester United boys could be crucial again

Jesse Lingard – 8, Ashley Young – 7

Lingard and Young were heavily influential for England once again in the 2-0 quarterfinal win over Sweden, both of them registered assists for the goals.

Young’s set-piece delivery could be crucial once again as England look to expose Croatia’s cross ball problem.

Next: England or Croatia will face Paul Pogba's France in the final, read how they defeated Belgium HERE!

Marcus Rashford and Phil Jones – n/a

Rashford only managed seconds against Sweden entering the match as a late substitute whilst Jones did not feature at all.

If things don’t go England’s way tonight, Rashford may be getting a few more minutes in a bid to change the game.