Croatia ace to play through pain barrier against England


Croatia, meanwhile have made the World Cup knockout rounds for the first time since 1998, when they reached the semi-final and finished third overall. They are unbeaten so far in the tournament.

England forward Harry Kane, who tops the World Cup scorers' list in Russian Federation with six goals, is level with former striker Gary Lineker for most goals scored by an England player at one World Cup.

"We experienced the extra time and penalties (against Colombia) and we know the physical and emotional outcome of that", he said.

In total the two sides have played each other seven times, with England notching four wins to Croatia's two.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic tweaked an existing hamstring problem in the closing stages of Croatia's win over Russian Federation, though played on regardless and even made a crucial stop in the penalty shootout.

The small European country have some tidy players, including Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic.

The Liverpool midfielder was taken off five minutes from the end of the last-eight victory over Sweden at the weekend due to a tight hamstring.

Dele Alli has also been singled out for having under-performed, but his goal and all-round energetic display against Sweden will see him keep his place in the starting XI.

The England captain, who has not scored from open play since England's rout of Panama in their second group match, does not have the lightning speed that would expose the lack of pace in the Croatian central defence.

"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". "They have a lot of youngsters, but they are really good, fast, they play for great clubs".

The Three Lions captain leads the scoring charts in Russian Federation with six goals from just four matches, and is bet365's 10/3 (4.33) favourite to break the deadlock at the Luzhniki Stadium.

But they face their sternest test yet in the semi-finals when they come up against Croatia.