England hope to keep dream alive against Croatia

Croatia after they beat Russia on penalties during their quarter final match

England manager Gareth Southgate and midfielder Jordan Henderson spoke to the media ahead of the Three Lions' World Cup semi-final against Croatia. And a young, likeable side with an eminently sensible and humble manager in Southgate have captured the hearts of a nation.

As reported by ESPN FC on Monday, the inflatable unicorn races in the swimming pool at England's Repino base, as well as the Fortnite competitions, darts and 10-pin bowling, have turned this World Cup campaign into what Ashley Young described as a "holiday".

Dele Alli shouldn't have been in the team against Sweden the way he was playing, but he's in the team because we have two goalscorers; Harry Kane, who has two chances and one goal, and Dele Alli.

Given Croatia had extra time and penalties to recover from, England should come into the game fresher and they also have the edge in previous meetings, winning four of the seven encounters, including a 5-1 victory in their most recent match - a World Cup qualifier in 2009.

With 30 minutes to go in this game I think England will run away with it and win comfortably. "We'll just have to assess the bodies", said Southgate. I felt something unusual in my knee and after talking with the doctor on the sideline we decided I should come off.

Neither team came to Russian Federation being heralded as favourites but they have produced performances throughout the competition which have shown they were underestimated by the pundits.

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

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia boast two of the finest midfielders in world football, a fact not lost on fellow schemer Henderson.

The Real Madrid ace has been outstanding in Russian Federation.

The captain was the man of the match again in the penalty shootout win over Russian Federation in Sochi at the weekend.

"There is still a lot to play. Hopefully we'll go out there and implement our plan". As we regroup, he turns to me and says, "right that's enough, time to lift the tempo, let's get about them". But there is less pressure on them now.

Whether that is fair or not, given that Ivan Perisic doesn't provide him with much cover, is up for debate but it was clear that Russian Federation targeted that area as they forced Croatia to penalties in their quarter-final.

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.

However, Southgate refuses to accept the idea that England will be significantly fresher. "I feel they're a fantastic team, working for each other and together, which is why they're in a semifinal of a World Cup. We have dealt with hard situations in games". "We've got to win because we play better".

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