England News: Southgate braced for toughest test

1 year ago

In the latest England news, boss Gareth Southgate believes his side will face the toughest test of their World Cup campaign to date when they take on Croatia in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Three Lions are preparing for their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years and they know a victory over Croatia will set up a showdown with France in Sunday’s final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

England’s passage through to the last four has seen them beat Panama and Tunisia during the group stage, while they needed penalties in the last-16 to see off Colombia before dispatching Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals last weekend.

Confidence will certainly be high within the England camp and they are priced at 5/9 with Sport Nation to make it through to the final, but Southgate is taking nothing for granted against a Croatia side that contains world-class quality in the form of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic.

He said: “They’ll be the best team we’ve played in terms of what they’re capable of doing with the ball, and what their individuals are capable of, definitely.

However, Southgate knows Wednesday’s match will present his England side with another opportunity to make history and he admits the belief within his squad is continuing to grow.

“For us as a team, it’s another chance to create a small piece of history,” the former Middlesbrough boss added.

“We’ve got to keep getting over those hurdles and I know we talked about the success of the younger teams but this is a much harder, much bigger level for the players and the belief is building as things are happening.”

England have won their last two meetings with Croatia by an aggregate score of 9-2, although the most recent of those games did come during a World Cup qualifier nearly nine years ago.