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Croatia play down fatigue fears as they eye England scalp

11 July 2018

No other soccer nation dwells on decades of failure quite like the English.

It's coming home. Or it's not.

England football players and their manager have an opportunity to achieve sporting immortality tomorrow as they aim to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

"It's nice to hear people enjoying it again, anyway".

When the song first was released, the chorus proclaimed "Three lions on a shirt/Jules Rimet still gleaming/Thirty years of hurt/never stopped me dreaming".

Most of the England players have also come in to existence.

In between all the memes you might have noticed it is 28 years since England last contested a World Cup semi-final and a lot has changed since that night in Turin.

"It was a long time ago, so not too many of us can remember that far back", said midfielder Jordan Henderson, born in 1990. Southgate wants to break stereotypes, and not just on the field.

It is the first time since 1998 that the nation of little over four million people have reached this stage of the competition, after they eliminated Russian Federation in a penalty shoot-out at the weekend.

The names of Sir Alf Ramsey and his players - still the only 11 Englishmen to play in a World Cup final - will be recalled forever and their stories told whenever the nation's landmark moments in sport are revisited. When asked about injuries, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic responded through a translator with inconclusive palaver about Vrsaljko having "this niggle". Each side has won two of the four meetings since then, which includes England's infamous 3-2 defeat at in November 2007, which saw it miss out on a Euro 2008 spot and led to the departure of boss Steve McClaren.

"I think Raheem has been fundamental to the way that we have played - his movement, the positions he takes up, his pressing of the ball, his work-rate for the team, the winning of free kicks and corners, his speed to stretch teams".

"We are just going to stick with what we have been doing all the way through".

On the Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings Croatia are 20th with England at 12th. "The age of the players, the improvement in the players, the hunger in the players has been apparent for everybody to see". He has some minor problems but we are facing a huge game.

Croatia play down fatigue fears as they eye England scalp