Moscow shall play host to England and Croatia as they battle it out at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday evening in what promises to be a thrilling semi-final.
Croatia find themselves in the semis after 20 years while the English, who have been perennial underachievers, have given themselves a shot for glory for the very first time since 1990.
The last five results between these two sides have seen England win thrice while Croatia have nicked it twice.
Physical fitness will be a crucial factor going into the tie as Croatia’s last two knockout games have gone into penalties after 120 minutes of action each. Already there are lingering doubts over Sime Vrsaljko who picked up a knock on his knee in the last game.
Danijel Subasic is set to play through the pain barrier despite struggling with a muscle injury in the quarter-final win over Russia.
“We’re tired but there can be no excuses. We’ve come to the semi-final. We’re here to play football, enjoy ourselves and give our all. We do not want to say we are fatigued. We have not been exhausted. There is still opportunity for us to exhaust ourselves,” said Zlatko Dalic, the Croatian manager.
A lot of onus will be on the shoulders of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, who are expected to boss the midfield.
Meanwhile, Harry Kane has been leading the line for England with aplomb. The Tottenham striker has six goals to his name and leads the tally for the Golden Boot award.
Southgate acknowledged that Croatia will be the toughest test his young team will face in the World Cup.
“They’ll be the best team we’ve played in terms of what they’re capable of doing with the ball, and what individuals are capable of, definitely. For us as a team, it’s another chance to create a small piece of history,” he mentioned.
All roads lead to Moscow on Wednesday evening as France await who shall they battle it out against this Sunday for the World Cup glory.