Croatia working extra, says it will have enough for England

Lynette Rowe
July 9, 2018

Stuff's footballing experts try to predict the outcomes of the two semifinal matches at the World Cup.

How they got there Croatia after winning Group D with a 100 per cent record have had to grit their way through the knockout stages with penalty shoot-out wins over Denmark and hosts Russian Federation.

Belgium will put their ideal record on the line against the in-form and balanced France in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday. - Croatia have now had eight different scorers at the 2018 World Cup - only Belgium (nine) have had more.

Coming off a 2018 World Cup that is absent any Team USA and hence down from the American participating 2014 tournament, yesterday's 10:45 AM PT starting Croatia v. Russian Federation game also provided a nice lift for Fox.

May the best team win.

With an attacking force featuring the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, the Belgians are fearsome in the attacking third.

Starting the penalty shootouts with a miss, Russian Federation could not save their World Cup dreams as Ivan Rakitic scored the deciding kick that saw Croatia through to the semifinal where they will face England.

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Three more goals ensured a dramatic comeback against Japan in the round of 16 before Belgium beat favourites Brazil 2-1 in their quarter-final on Friday. England's Harry Kane leads all scorers with six goals in Russian Federation.

Domagoj Vida then headed Zlatko Dalic's side in front in extra-time, only for Mario Fernandes to make it 2-2 in the 115th minute. Subasic battled on, blocking a shot from a tight angle late in second-half stoppage time. That was the only year the Croatians advanced past the group stage before this tournament.

However, Rakitic ensured that Croatia prevailed in the shoot-out, their second in a row after beating Denmark on penalties in the last round.

Modric (dodgy penalty attempts aside) has carried his Real Madrid Champions League form into the World Cup finals and remains at his peak at 32.

Vukojevic was appointed a year ago as a scout for Dynamo after a lengthy playing career which included being part of the Croatian squad for the 2014 World Cup.

"I was concentrated throughout the match, but after Rakitic's penalty the emotion came bursting out of me. We know that we're facing England for a place in the final and now we want to win the trophy". "We made ourselves happy but we also made everybody back home in Croatia happy".

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