England team: Starting line-up to face Croatia

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Even with all of the talent that Croatia and England have stocked in their respective national teams, their appearance in the World Cup semifinal is nothing short of astounding.

"We were not certain what this team might be capable of", Southgate admitted to ITV, mindful of England's many recent failures. Kieran Trippier has given England a 1-0 lead with a fifth-minute free kick in the World Cup semifinal against Croatia.

When we look back we will think there's stuff we could have done better.

Southgate has been just the voice of reason England have needed to prevent anyone from getting too carried away.

Criticism leveled at young England forward Raheem Sterling for his paltry returns at the Russia World Cup is off the mark, Gareth Southgate said Tuesday.

England made it through the semi-finals with a penalty kick win over Colombia in the last 16 and a 2-0 win over Sweden last time out in the quarter-finals.

Their one defeat came against Belgium in their final group game, in a match between two essentially reserve sides.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric also pulled the strings cleverly in midfield and when the disappointment fades for England they might take consolation from the fact they were beaten by a technically gifted side.

Real Madrid playmaker Modric has excelled at times in Russian Federation, both on the ball and in terms of his leadership qualities.

Then they were beaten on penalties by West Germany.

Sterling has played four games in Russian Federation, only sitting out England's final pool match against Belgium when both qualified teams fielded second-string sides.

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England hasn't advanced to the semi-finals since 1990.

"There is still a lot to play".

But a day after being singled out as one of England's major threats by Croatian manager Zlatko Dalic, the England coach came to the Manchester City attacker's defense in Moscow.

"Let me tell you, whether we win or lose the game, my life will not change", he said.

Then, it's the World Cup Final - France vs. Croatia in Moscow at 3am Monday morning.

"They of course have a very strong midfield so, (it is about) denying them space and making sure awareness of distances and coverage of the pitch is correct and (knowing) the right moments to press".

It stayed level at 90 minutes, meaning Croatia faced extra time for the third successive game, having got past Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties. "We feel much easier at this point", said striker Mario Mandzukic.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic soldiered on against Russian Federation despite hurting a hamstring, while right-back Sime Vrsaljko is expected to miss the game.

Crawford was capped twice by the Three Lions in the early sixties and played on the same pitch as all of the triumphant England team of that era at some stage or another during a near fifteen-year career in the game.

England have had a smooth sailing so far in the competition while Croatia have endured two pulsating penalty shootout victories on their road to the last four.

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