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Croatia star Modric expects a tough game against a 'strong' England

11 July, 2018, 05:37 | Author: Candice Daniels
  • Croatia players celebrate winning the penalty shoot out during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Russia and Croatia

"We were not certain what this team might be capable of", Southgate admitted to ITV, mindful of England's many recent failures.

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

"Obviously we know we are playing in the World Cup, in the semi-final".

"We can take a lot of good things in the past in terms of '66 and what they achieved then", said Henderson.

Henderson said of England's semi-final opponents: "They have got some fantastic players". Their players have won nine Champions Leagues between them, compared to England's one, and 11 of their squad have more than 40 caps. England also have the World Cup's top-scorer in Harry Kane, who has six to his name so far. However, their two knockout-stage games have gone to penalties.

Harry Kane has to lead the group from the front, and now has a great chance of ending the tournament as the golden boot victor. We are so focused on the games that you forget what we have done so far.

- England has not beaten two European nations in a single World Cup since 1982, when it beat Czechoslovakia and France. Kane was quiet in the victory over Sweden, but the Spurs striker will be looking to add a goal to his tally to fire the Three Lions to World Cup glory.

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"We have seen how strong England are at set-pieces and we will have to do better because against Russian Federation we conceded a goal like that". "We've talked about how important it is to have that spirit".

However, Kane's partner in attack, Raheem Sterling, has pace to burn and England's totem will be on hand to benefit if that causes problems for the Croatians.

Dier said: "He (Modric) is a great player, one of the best in the world, and whatever position or wherever he plays it doesn't make a difference to a player of that quality.

We're really proud in the style that we've played, with the intelligence that we've played, and that we've performed under pressure and dealt with hard situations in games where we've had to wait until the last minute to score, we've had to recover from conceding in last minute, we've been through extra time, penalties".

In the latest in a series of controversies, former worldwide Ognjen Vukojevic was kicked out of their delegation on Monday and fined by Federation Internationale de Football Association for posting a pro-Ukraine video clip following their penalty shootout victory over Russia on Saturday.

The big Croatian looks likely to shake off the hamstring injury that hampered him against the Russians and would be an imposing figure between the sticks for England's penalty takers if a place in the final came down to spot-kicks.

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