France confirmed their place in the final of the World Cup on Tuesday. Tonight, we find out who of Croatia or England will join them in Sunday’s showpiece.
For England, it is the next step in what has been an incredible journey so far, one that has defied expectations.
Gareth Southgate picked a squad light on experience but big on enthusiasm for Russia. Indeed, not even the manager was born the only time England lifted the World Cup in 1966 on home soil.
In Croatia, they face a team that demolished Argentina in the group phase but have had to rely on the lottery of penalty shoot-outs in their two knockout matches – against Denmark and Russia – to reach only a second World Cup semi-final.
Southgate told reporters on Tuesday that the most important thing was to keep things as normal as possible for his young charges.
“We’ve been tucked away in our base camp preparing the same way,” he said. “Our preparation for the game has been identical. I think it’s important there’s consistency leading into matches like this.
“You don’t have to change things, you don’t have to do things differently. You don’t have to find another level, generally speaking.
“As a player, if you can perform at your regular level in these games then very often that’s more than enough because people can be inhibited in big matches.”
If keeping things “normal” means training with blue and red rubber toy roosters as part of preparing for the biggest games of their lives, then England have it nailed.
Possible Line Up:
Croatia XI: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic; Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic
England XI: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Dele, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane
What are your predictions?
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