The World Cup’s second semi-final takes place as England face Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Here, FP highlights some things to look out for at Russia 2018 on Wednesday.
Can England cope with the occasion?
England seemed to do a very decent job of handling the pressure on them as they beat Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals, and fans will hope that was a good sign for an even more seismic fixture. This is the Three Lions’ first World Cup semi-final in 28 years, offering the opportunity of a first appearance in the final since the glory of 1966. While the way Gareth Southgate’s men respond to the situation remains to be seen, the growing excitement among the supporters has been clear.
Will Kane be a record-breaker?
Although Harry Kane did not score in the Sweden match on Saturday, the quarter-finals concluded with him at the top of the Golden Boot standings, and the England captain will be looking to take another step towards that prize against Croatia. Also, should he add to what is currently a six-goal haul, he will break a record – he is currently level with Gary Lineker (Mexico 1986) in terms of most goals netted at a single World Cup by an England player.
More heroics from Pickford?
A number of England players have really shone in Russia and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is another among them. The 24-year-old followed up his superb saves in the last-16 tie against Colombia with a number of fine stops on Saturday and it may well be further heroics from him, as much as from Kane, that sees England through.
Modric the main danger man?
Potentially the biggest individual threat England are set to encounter in the match is Croatia’s captain Luka Modric. The Real Madrid man is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world and gave a particularly eye-catching demonstration of what he can do with his fine strike in the 3-0 group-stage win over Argentina. Modric’s team-mates Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic can also cause considerable problems.
Memories may well be cast back to England’s defeat on penalties in the last four of the 1990 tournament if this game goes to a shootout, but fans might not feel quite the same sense of dread this time that they have in the past, with the team’s first-ever World Cup win on spot-kicks having been secured against Colombia. It should be noted, though, that Croatia have won in each of the last two rounds via penalties, and that while England have Pickford, who made such a superb stop to keep out Carlos Bacca’s effort from 12 yards, their opponents have in Danijel Subasic a goalkeeper who has pulled off four shootout saves so far in Russia.
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