And still, even as their movements grew stiff and their tendons tight, when they were gasping for breath and it looked as though they could not possibly give any more, they kept going, kept chasing, kept running: past England, into the World Cup final ...
Croatia had recovered, just as it had in both of the previous rounds, from a deficit, when the outstanding Ivan Perisic canceled out Kieran Trippier’s opener. It had gradually exerted its authority, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic taking hold of the midfield.
It had also spurned chances to win; so many that it seemed to have spurned the opportunity entirely: Perisic hit the post and missed an open goal, and a sprawling, desperate save from Jordan Pickford, England’s exceptional goalkeeper, denied Mario Mandzukic.
The clock ticked. Penalties — more penalties — loomed. And then, after 110 fraught minutes, England switched off for a single second and Mandzukic, that grizzled old warrior, stole in and smashed home the winner.
He had barely been able to move for what seemed like ages, but now he raced to the corner, cajoling the swaying mass of red-and-white-clad Croatia fans. His teammates sprinted to join him, burying him under a pile of bodies. Beneath all of them was a solitary, helpless photographer, swept off his feet by Croatia’s celebrations.
That was nothing, though, compared to what followed the final whistle. Those Croatian players that could still move ran to their fans once more, the fatigue stripped away by delirium. They danced and sang and soaked up the adulation, savored the moment. Some were passed their children, some were passed their flag — both ended up draped around the players, as a checkerboard sea churned in the stands of the Luzhniki Stadium.
On the halfway line — recast now as a slender divide between hope and despair — England Manager Gareth Southgate stood and watched. His players were at his back, at the other end of the field, applauding their fans, commiserating with them, the mood proud but somber, stony faces and distant eyes.
As this World Cup progressed, England had started to feel that, perhaps, for once, fortune was on its side. Southgate had brought his squad here with more hope than expectation: Most assumed that elimination in the round of 16, or possibly the quarterfinal, was the best that might be achieved.
As Russia 2018’s rebellious spirit started to emerge, though, that changed. England breezed through its group and then won a penalty shootout (and it never does that). As the favorites, in quick succession, were exposed and ejected, a path seemed to open up before Southgate’s young team.
The very prospect sent the country into a frenzy. These have been strange weeks in England, weeks when it has been easy to fall in love: A place of apparently endless sunshine and, with a government teetering on the edge, of chronic uncertainty.
Croatia’s Ivan Perisic scores the team’s first goal. Credit Darren Staples/ReutersInto this unfamiliar territory stepped a fresh, exciting England team, one stripped of the unwarranted swagger of its predecessors and coached by a fundamentally decent, approachable man. England, devoid of pretension and ego, seemed open and friendly, unexpectedly likable and — most shockingly of all — actually quite good at soccer.
The nation, hurt so often before, swooned. The first flush of romance made it playful, almost silly: Three Lions, the unofficial theme tune to the 1996 European Championships, was repurposed as a modern anthem; the song’s refrain, “It’s coming home,” became a greeting and a farewell, the answer to every question, the clip that launched a thousand memes.
It was all so sudden, so unlikely that it felt giddy, swaddled as it was in an air of unreality: If England, at a World Cup, could score six goals, why shouldn’t they also train with a rubber chicken? If England could win a penalty shootout, why would it be odd that they were spending their rehabilitation sessions in the swimming pool, racing inflatable unicorns?
Deep down, everyone expected it to end in heartbreak, in the sort of piercing hurt that Southgate surely felt as he watched Croatia’s players celebrate the achievement that might have been his.
Even the despair, however, was somehow new. There was no villain here, nobody to blame, no need for a scapegoat or an effigy. Nobody was foolishly sent off, or cruelly injured; there is no appetite for a thorough overhaul of the way England plays or thinks or plans for the future.
No, it was simply that this was where it had to end, against a team with just a little more experience and just a little more class, one slightly more accustomed to these rarefied airs. Modric is a veteran of four Champions League finals, Mandzukic three, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Rakitic one apiece. Of England’s starters, only Jordan Henderson had played in the biggest game in club soccer, and that was only a little more than a month ago.
There was, for both the English fans at home and for those who had made the journey to Russia — some arriving a month ago, some in the last couple of days, as the mania truly set in — only pride: in what they had seen, in what they had done, in the love they had felt as a nation communed again with the team that is supposed to represent it.
For Southgate, though, that was not enough. He waited on the touchline because he wanted to congratulate Croatia’s staff and players on their victory and because he did not want to interfere, did not want to interrupt their moment, and because, you suspect, he did not want to hide from the disappointment. He wanted to wallow in it, to experience it, to feel it, so that it might serve as inspiration not to go through it again.
That is for the future, though. The present belonged to the players he was watching, those that made Croatia the smallest country to reach the World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950, that turned this team into a modern marvel. The players who did not stop running, even when their bodies were screaming at them to stop, even when they could not catch their breath, even when their very bones groaned under the load. They have worked for their prize; they have earned it. France awaits. They must go once more into the red.
Here’s how Croatia beat England, by Andrew Das and Kevin Draper:
FULL TIME: Croatia 2, England 1
England couldn’t make it happen in the closing minutes and Croatia, clearly exhausted, are going to the their first World Cup final.
England somehow wound up with just one shot on goal: the first-half score by Trippier. Of their other 10 shots, six were off target and four were blocked. In contrast, Croatia fired off 22 shots, getting seven of them on net.
120’ + 3: Vardy Shows Up
Jamie Vardy is called for a rough tackle. Free kick for Croatia.
120’ + 1: Four More Minutes
Rakitic and Kyle Walker do some shoving, but Walker quickly realizes that the clock is running out on England.
120’: Croatia Still Threatening
Andrej Kramaric takes a pass and creates some space inside the box and fires … wide of the post!
117’: Trippier Goes Off
Trippier is done. He’s being helped off by two trainers with a leg injury. Out of subs, England will finish with 10.
113’: England’s Run in Jeopardy
Seven minutes to the final, and to the end of England’s run if this doesn’t change.
112’: England Needs to Push
Vrsaljko is down for a minute and England refuses to play the ball out. They even get a cross in, but Subasic gets to it and now we have a whistle. Not sure Dalic wants to do anything though, and it seems just a cramp. Play on.
Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic scores their second goal. Credit Darren Staples/Reuters109’: GOAL! CROATIA LEADS!
Mario Mandzukic gives Croatia a 2-1 lead!
They caught England napping at the back again, and it’s Mandzukic with the goal. He had given up on the play too, hanging his head as a poor cross was cleared, but Perisic fought for the header to send it back in. And when Mandzukic saw what was happening he reacted first and beat Pickford from point-blank range.
The Croatians pour out of the dugout and the entire squad collapses onto Mandzukic — and several photographers in the corner.
The celebration goes on, and then several of them kiss the poor cameraman who took the worst of it. What a moment, right in front of their fans. Could that be the winner that sends them to their first final?
107’: Croatia Takes a Quick Shot
Corner to Croatia: they take it short and catch England sleeping, but Brozovic, who had sneaked forward, fires high trying a first-touch volley in the area.
106’: Here We Go … Again
OK, brace yourselves. Another 15.
End of First Extra Time
That Mandzukic play was really a flash out of nowhere (I’ve apologized to Rory next to me for yelling out; I’m a little embarrassed by that). Croatia’s been the more dangerous team since its goal. But they also are the more tired team — by a lot. And one wonders if they’ve got enough to fight through another 15 and just take their chances on penalties.
105’ + 1 CROATIA GOES CLOSE!
Out of nothing, a cross to Mandzukic in the goal mouth — he gets a touch, but Pickford arrives just in time to get one of his own and blunt the force of the shot.
105’: No Energy for Croatia
Modric plays a super ball to Perisic down the left wing, but not a single teammate has the energy to catch up and give him an option in the center. They’re beat.
104’: England Sloppy
England continues to tempt fate in the back, with passes that arrive jusssst a bit late, or go jussssst a bit off target. Maybe it’s confidence, but one wrong move there could end it all.
101’: Rebic Comes Off
Dalic must’ve heard us: Rebic comes off and Andrej Kramaric — the goal-scorer against Russia the other day in the quarters — comes on to do a bit of running.
100’: Free Kick for Croatia
Cynical late foul from Rashford there, who dragged Virsaljko on the right. Free kick on the right.
England’s John Stones heads the ball off the line. Credit Ryan Pierse/Getty Images99’: England … ALMOST!
Stones header off the corner — VRSALJKO OFF THE LINE! He’s just saved his goalkeeper, and his team. Perfect or lucky? Who cares if you’re Croatian.
98’: Corner for England
Dalic’s unwillingness to take off some of his more tired-looking players looking more and more strange as England wins a corner. Mandzukic and Rebic, for two look beat.
Messi’s gone. Ronaldo’s gone. Germany’s long gone. But Spot the Ball has survived the World Cup knockout round! To celebrate, we’ve pulled some photos from the round of 16 and made one very important change — we removed the ball. See if you can guess where it was.
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97’: Dier Up for England
Eric Dier up now; he’ll be England’s third sub. Henderson gives way, but it’s a straight switch.
96’: Yellow for Rebic
That earlier switch of yellows helps Rebic there, as he clips Rose after a loose Croatia pass and NOW he has his own yellow.
England lines up from 35 yards in the center for a free kick; their targets are arrayed across the 18.
94’: Change for Croatia
Dalic looks like he’s finally going to yield, and with Strinic, the left back, down getting treatment, Josip Pivaric gets up and checks in for him.
92’: Rebic Gets Physical
England starts with a bit of possession, and Rebic counters with another foul as Croatia win the ball and try (and fail) to get out.
91’: Here We Go
Here we go for extra time: Danny Rose on for England, replacing Ashley Young at kinda-sorta left back.
Extra Time: What’s at Stake?
Reminder of what’s at stake here: the winner (survivor?) tonight gets France in Sunday’s World Cup final. The loser plays Belgium on Saturday in the third-place game in St. Petersburg.
Also, if we get there, no team has ever won three straight penalty shootouts in the World Cup. Croatia has won two in a row, against Denmark and then Russia.
About Those Crosses …
Croatia has 32 crosses and 16 shots as it has pressed forward to try to find goals. England has been much more circumspect, with 12 crosses and 8 shots.
Plenty of Subs Available
Oddly, there was only one sub in the first 90 minutes: Rashford for Sterling. So Croatia will have all four subs in extra time if Dalic wants them (he may not). Southgate will have three more (the two left from regular time, and the bonus one teams now get in extra time).
Just in Case …
The stadium announcer helpfully explains the rules of overtime in English and Russian to … I don’t know who. Who comes to a World Cup semifinal without knowing what comes after a tie through 90 minutes?
Full Time: We’re Headed to Extra Time
That got tense there, but we stay tied as Cakir blows his whistle. Grab a snack and a drink and come right back: we have 30 bonus minutes coming up.
90’ +2: Kane Misses
It finds Kane, but his header goes almost directly downward at the far post (how was he unmarked?). A big let-off for Croatia there. Now they’re probably happy to get out and start over.
90’ + 1: Free Kick for England
This is how you get in trouble Coratia: Rakitic commits a foul out right, Trippier comes over to take the free kick, Kane and Maguire move their heads into position .........
90’: Lovren Fires From Deep
After some deliberate sniffing around by Croatia, Lovren decides the best plan is for him to take a crack from 30 yards. It is not a good decision, but at least one fan will get a touch.
87’ Tick ... Tick … Tick.
Extra time looming now, and Subasic is taking his time with the goal kick. Neither side wants a mistake now.
Croatia’s Luka Modrić is challenged by England’s Dele Alli. Credit Ryan Pierse/Getty Images86’: Croatia Clicking
Croatia’s really on the hunt now and England would like a timeout. Sorry; not allowed. But they get a break when Strinic, venturing forward from left back, fires a left back’s pass across the field and straight out of bounds.
85’: England Struggling
England has one goal, but it also only has that one shot on target the whole game, out of eight attempts. Croatia in contrast has 12 shots, three on goal.
84’: Perisic Misses!
A minute later it’s Pickford in trouble again: he loses a battle for a free ball with Mandzukic, and the ball falls to Perisic, but he fires it over the open goal!!
83’: Another Great Chance for Croatia
Great chance for Mandzukic in the clear there. He takes it off his chest but fires right at Pickford. England tries a quick counter, but Subasic wins a footrace with Rashford.
81’: England Averts Disaster
Nearly a disaster there for England as they use Pickford as the safety valve again and nearly pass the ball directly to Manduzkic to send him in on goal. Pickford scrambles to blast it forward and is lucky Rakitic isn’t there to receive. Nervy moment for the young England back line.
78’: Henderson Launches One
Henderson, off balance, on the run, shooting from 25, is probably a bargain Croatia can live with. He fires it 25 rows up.
77’: Pushing Forward
Rakitic has left Brozovic to do the dirty work in defensive midfield and push a bit forward. Croatia on the front foot for really the first time.
75’: Croatia Making Trouble
Trippier just fooled himself there — and let a ball run right out of bounds. Croatia says thanks and sends a long throw down the line, and now they’re in the area making trouble again.
74’: Marcus Rashford Enters
Marcus Rashford on for Sterling, who worked hard and looked dangerous, but fell a bit too much for his own good.
73’: England Looks a Bit Scared
Corner to Croatia. England suddenly, and for the first time, looks a bit young, a bit panicky.
71’: Croatia … So Close!
Croatia really running now. AND PERISIC ALMOST MAKES IT TWO!!!!
England, on its heels again, lets him in on the left and he pings Pickford’s far post with a low shot. The rebound comes to Mandzukic, but he can only drive it right into Pickford’s arms.
Credit Shaun Botterill/Getty Images69’: New Ballgame
That almost had the feel of England lulling itself to sleep a bit, the ‘we’re up and it’s going well and the ball’s way over there’ moment you need to avoid. Perisic took full advantage, and we have a whole new ballgame.
68’ GOAL! Croatia Levels
Ivan Perisic scores!
The momentum finally — finalllllly — turns into something for Croatia. Virsajko lobbed in a better cross from the right, and Perisic ran around both Trippier and Walker to stab it home with his left foot.
That was an acrobatic goal, but a scorer’s goal too.
67’: Croatia Starts Over
Snap shot by Kane at the right post never had a chance, but he sure made it look as if it did. Vida closed the angle well there, and methodically Croatia starts over again.
65’: Walker Goes Down
Walker, clearly hobbled by a shot he took to the … um …. uncomfortable place, had to scramble to his feet when Croatia won the ball back and had another go. Play even cycled around for another 30 seconds before Kane went down in a heap, and only then does Cakir stop play. Water for everyone, except Walker, who just needs a little time to himself.
63’: Croatia’s Crosses
Croatia is using the cross to attack, 18 so far, from Perisic, Rebic, Modric and others. But the crosses seem aimless and few are getting onto the feet or heads of Croatian players. England has seven cross, five by Trippier.
60’: No Teeth in Croatia’s Attack
An hour gone, and Croatia isn’t looking any fresher, or any faster.
Rakitic tries a one-time volley there, but it just draws laughs when it curls off his foot and almost to the corner flag.
59’: Pickford Bails Out Walker
Walker slices a clearance badly and it goes backward for a corner. He’s unhappy, and should be, but Pickford charges out for the ball and saves him with a forceful punch.
58’: Croatia Looking Better
A lot more 5-3-2 than 3-5-2 for England the last few minutes. Trippier and Young are hanging back a bit more, or at least until the coast is clear. This has been Croatia’s best spell in a while.
56’: England’s Attack Fizzles
Kane header, Sterling one-touch layoff, Lingard rocket looked great — until it hit a defender and went well high. Corner to England.
England’s Kyle Walker gets a yellow card. Credit Peter Powell/EPA, via Shutterstock54’: Walker Gets a Yellow Card
Now Walker gets a yellow, for a little exchange with two Croats to slow down a throw. They fired it in, but this time Cakir spots something, and the optimism dies a quick death.
52’: Croatia Looking for Rebic
Croatia is really trying to work the ball to Rebic on the left now, at his regular and loud insistence. But everything seems a bit too long, or a bit too short.
The Scene in Hyde Park
England fans in Hyde Park seem happy about their team’s goal.
HYDE PARK ERUPTS WHEN ENGLAND SCORE Video by LXA47’: Yellow for Mandzukic
Our first yellow goes to Mandzukic for a foul on Walker.
47’: Croatia a Step Slow
Croatia’s first attack, though, is more of the same: Rebic and Brozovic try to get something going on the left, but it’s all a step too slow.
There have been 23 goals scored in the 90th minute and second-half stoppage time so far in this World Cup, shattering the previous high of 14, set four years ago in Brazil.
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46’: Quick Foul for England
Back under way and Raheem Sterling fouls Luka Modric about five seconds in.
But England can’t just pass the ball back to goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for him to kick it long every time. It felt like they went to that well quite a bit, and a few times his clearances went straight to Croatia. The problem for the Croats is they just weren’t quick enough to exploit the rare mistakes.
Kieran Trippier, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal. Credit Sergei Chirikov/EPA, via ShutterstockOld vs. Young
Croatia’s inability to impose itself on England may be less about fatigue and more about the fact that it’s an older team playing a younger one. Sure, England is motivated and hungry. But so is Croatia. They just didn’t look like they had the wheels to turn things around on England in the first half, to start asking questions and creating openings. England’s discipline, especially Henderson and the back three has been great.
Among the players who stood out statistically in the first half were members of Croatia’s defense, which kept England from expanding its lead. Sime Vrsaljko may not have caught your attention, but he led the way in advancing the ball (143 meters), touches (25) and passes (33). Domagoj Vida had seven clears from the Croatian defense.
Halftime: England Leads, 1-0
The whistle blows for halftime on another blocked Croatia shot, and just as Kane and Sterling try to take off with the loose ball.
England will be happy with that half: an early goal, a lot of possession and a load of speed and danger on display. Croatia surrounds the referee Cakir on the way off; they thought Lovren had a penalty appeal for a shirt pull on the final free kick before the half. But Cakir would very much like to not listen, and he takes his ball and his linesman and ignores the Croats.
45’: Great Chance for Croatia
That’s probably the best chance yet for Croatia: a panicked clearance by Pickford, who has been called into use as a safety valve far too often, sends Croatia in. But Walker and Stones scramble back to cover, and the shot is blocked.
43’: Vrsaljko Lets One Fly
Vrsaljko winds up from 35 yards and kicks a field goal. That’s frustration, too. But England’s center backs are part of that: they’re regrouping very tightly in the center every time Croatia comes upfield, and they’re winning every ball that comes in.
44’: Off Target
Both teams are looking for more accurate shooting: England has four shots, and only Trippier’s goal was on target. Croatia has fired off four shots, with just one by Ante Rebic on net.
40’: Croatia Frustrated
Rebic clips Young from behind, giving away a free kick on the left touch line. It’s not danger, it was in England’s end and not going very far. But it had the whiff of frustration.
38’: England Playing Fast
That last play, and a follow up cross by Trippier in the next moments, show England to be a little quicker, a little faster, a little younger again. They’re a step ahead of Croatia to every ball, and that’s a problem, especially in Croatia’s end. Every loose ball is won by an England player, every lucky bounce seems to find an England player. Croatia just look ... well, either old or tired or slow. None of those are good things to be against this England.
But it’s showing up at the other end with Mandzukic too. Croatia just doesn’t have the speed anywhere to punish England, to turn a half chance into a good one, a breakout into a breakaway.
36’: Lingard Misses
A Kane lead pass and a slip by Vrsaljko springs Dele on the left, but the defender scrambles to his feet. Dele waits, waits, waits and then rolls a perfect ball to an open Lingard in the center. He, sadly, butchers it and sends it well wide. Great chance lost there and he knows it.
33’: Young Gets England Out of Trouble
Super tackle by Ashley Young on another dangerous Croatia cross. He slid in on Rebic — again — at the last second, and without fouling, to sweep away what would have been a clear shot at Pickford on the run.
A few seconds later, Rebic is flying in himself this time — colliding with Pickford on a high ball served into the top of the England penalty area. But Cakir calls a foul — they don’t like players running into goalkeepers — and England is safe.
32’: Pickford Saves
Rebic answers at the other end with a laser of a shot after some good work by Modric deep, but the ball sails right at Pickford’s chin, and he takes it down easily with both hands.
England’s Harry Kane hits the post. Credit Christian Hartmann/Reuters30’: KANE … No!
Not sure how either of Kane’s two shots stayed out there. A super ball from Lingard sprung him behind the offside trap (barely) and his right-footed shot was kicked away. But he controls the rebound at an even tighter angle next to the left post and pings a second attempt in. It hits a couple things, but neither is the back of the net, and spins high and — safely if you’re Croatia — out of bounds.
27’: Sterling Hits the Gas
Sterling wins a footrace with Lovren — well, not a race, since Sterling was always going to win it. But Lovren gets him back with a hand to the chest and kick to the shin, and Sterling falls like the world’s tiniest china cabinet. Free kick. It’s a good one: Subasic has to come and get it. But he punches it along and out for a throw to temporarily end the threat.
25’: Another Wasted Chance for England
Jesse Lingard gets in behind on the right but his cutback ball across the middle is terrible — missing two teammates, maybe three. Wasted chance, and a good one.
22’: Kane Offside
Now Kane strays a couple steps too far forward, and when a Croatia turnover falls to Sterling, and he feeds it back in to the big striker, he still hasn’t scrambled back onisde. Didn’t really matter in the end: Kane pulled his shot left. But he was two yards offside.
21’: Lovren Clobbers Kane
Lovren absolutely hammers Kane at midfield to stop a breakout. That was an N.F.L. safety tackle right there, but he had no choice. Kane looked about to get around him, and that would have been deadly.
20’: Sterling Working
England clearly likes the Sterling-Vida matchup down the right: it keeps trying to get him around the corner. But Vida holds firm again there.
19’: Perisic Fires and Misses
Perisic pulls up from distance on the left and lashes a shot into Pickford’s side netting. It went out off Stones’s heel, but Cakir didn’t see that and gives a goal kick — to Perisic’s obvious dismay.
17’: Fans Helping Out
Sensing their team needs a lift — it does — Croatia’s fans break into a “Cro-Ah-C-Yah” bit. But as soon as the team moves upfield, it peters out. Then so does the move.
14’: More Corner Danger
A neat give-and-go between Ashley Young and Dele Alli eventually springs the latter running across the top of the area. He feeds Trippier on the far side, and his cross is blocked out for another corner. It finds Maguire — again — and he gets a little closer but still sends it wide.
12’: Maguire Heads High
An England corner, their first. Young to take. More set piece danger. Harry Maguire gets his head on it, but sends it well high.
11’: Croatia Needs to Regroup
Croatia seems a little annoyed, and a little out of sorts, after the goal. Lovren just whacked a ball into the stands at midfield after a teammate passed it back to him at the spot with England players around. Not smart.
9’: Croatia Gets a Corner
Now it’s Croatia with a corner. Modric to take it, but there’s a bit of shoving at the spot so we pause. England clears — clumsily — and Kane nearly springs Sterling long. But his mark gets back to expertly poke it free with a reached-around toe. Risky play, done magnificently.
England’s Jordan Pickford gathers the ball. Credit Shaun Botterill/Getty Images7’: Sterling Gives Croatia a Scare
Raheem Sterling causing trouble down the right now, twice, but Subasic is out to smother the second one to the left of his goal.
6’: Set Pieces Rule This Cup
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by another set piece goal: that’s 70 — 70!!!!!! — in this tournament. Or almost half the total.
5’: GOAL! England Leads
Kieran Trippier just stepped up and took it like a pro. Super free kick — high and right — and Subasic never had a chance. That goal is Trippier’s first for England.
4’: Free Kick for England
Dele wins a free kick in a dangerous spot at the top of the circle in front of the Croatia goal. Trippier and Ashley Young stand over it, and now Maguire comes over with his two cents. A set piece, who’d a thunk it?
2’: Referee Exerts Control
A talking-to for Lingard from the referee Cakir, right after Dele gets one. Lots of nervous energy here, and the referee wants to keep a lid on extra stuff right away.
Croatia’s manager, Zlatko Dalic, is a pacer. Gareth Southgate is in the dugout, keeping his vest tidy.
1’: Bad Start for England
An England turnover and Henderson fouls to stop what could have been a quick counter. Expect a lot of that.
England’s Starting Lineup
The lineups are out and England doesn’t change a thing:
Goalkeeper: 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Defenders: 6 Harry Maguire (Leicester), 5 John Stones (Manchester City), 12 Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 18 Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Midfielders: 20 Dele Alli (Tottenham), 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 7 Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
Forwards: 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham), 10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
And why would they, with everything working so well this far. That’s the same three-man back line, with Walker, Stones and Maguire, flanked by Trippier and Young, who will again be looking to get forward and help in the attack. Henderson gets the lonely duty in central midfield, and his teammates (Lingard, Dele Alli, Trippier and Young) will need to make sure he doesn’t get overrun there by Modric and Rakitic.
Croatia’s Starting Lineup
For Croatia, Marcelo Brozovic has been chosen ahead of Andrej Kramaric. Brozovic was the pick against Denmark in the round of 16, but Kramaric played in the quarterfinal against Russia. The choice of Brozovic is a defense-oriented move, as he is a deeper-lying midfielder, while Kramaric plays just behind the striker, Mario Mandzukic.
Goalkeeper: 23 Danijel Subasic (Monaco)
Defenders: 21 Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), 3 Ivan Strinic (Milan), 6 Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), 2 Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: 10 Luka Modric (Real Madrid), 7 Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), 11 Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan)
Forwards: 17 Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), 4 Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), 18 Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)
World Cup 2018 (Soccer),Soccer,Croatia,England