World Cup 2018 | England v Croatia Tips | 11th July 2018
England are just one win away from a World Cup final! Both sides have been guaranteed another match, but who will make the final between England and Croatia? Lucas Swain-Britton shares his betting insight.
I don’t think anybody would have predicted this World Cup semi-final being contested between Croatia and England. One has been coined perennial dark horses, the other as perennial underachievers – when you put it like that, it doesn’t sound as strange.
Much has been made on social media of either side’s respective paths to this stage of the tournament, with many exclaiming it has been the easiest path to the semi-final in history, in particular for England.
This is neither fair of true, as whilst it’s a horrific cliché ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’ and Germany’s 2002 opposition of Republic of Ireland, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia, Paraguay and USA carries a lot less pedigree.
There’s been some notable news coming from both camps regarding injuries in the week, with both Sime Vrsaljko being announced as missing the match and Jordan Henderson looking likely to be passed fit.
Vrsaljko is extremely important to the Croatian back line, firstly as their most talented defender, and secondly he offers a vital turn of pace neither Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida or Ivan Stirnic are available to offer.
England have a real habit of dropping deep to lure defenders out of position and allow the likes of Kane, Sterling, Alli or Lingard to exploit, and if Croatia fall for this then they could find themselves horrifically exposed.
The best way for Croatia to counter this would be by containing possession, and with a midfield that contains the like of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, this is entirely plausible.
I’m expecting Marcelo Brozovic to start against England, as he offers support as an anchor behind the aforementioned duo and then will be able to drop back and assist in defence.
With Henderson possibly missing for England, the midfield battle is absolutely imperative for the tournament outsiders if they wish to progress.
We’ve already touched on the injuries to both nations, but another big talking point is the number of minutes Croatia have put in. They looked visibly tired against Russia and if this fixture goes the distance again they will be exhausted.
England are currently priced up as the favourites in this one, and since 1998 8/10 (80%) favourites have progressed from the semi-finals.
Another interesting statistic is that of goals in the semi-finals, there’s an average of 2.2 goals per game in semi-finals since 1998, but that number is heavily assisted by Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil last season. Just 3/10 (30%) have seen over 2.5 goals.
With all of this in mind I have a confident pick, and that’s going to be England Double Chance and Under 2.5 goals. I’m not ruling out the Croatians completely, as it’d be absurd to discard them so easily, but England shouldn’t be losing this in 90 minutes.