Maikaba: Why Croatia could ruin England's World Cup final dreams

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Abdu Maikaba is concerned about England’s chances of reaching the World Cup final as he backs Croatia to stage an upset in Wednesday’s semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Vatreni are on the brink of making the final of the global football fiesta for the first time in their history since they finished third in their debut campaign at the 1998 edition - won by hosts France.

Despite needing a playoff win to attend Rusia 2018, the Croats confirmed their intents for World Cup glory, trouncing Argentina 3-0 to win Group D before bouncing out Denmark and hosts Russia.

However, the Croats must negotiate past Gareth Southgate’s men, who dubbed favourites for progression but the Akwa United still doubts the Three Lions’ chances of subduing Zlatko Dalic’s side.

“It will definitely be a tough semi-final match between England and Croatia on Wednesday,” Maikaba told Goal.

“I am seeing Croatia reaching the final of the World Cup and likely to face France. If you look at England on one hand, even though they’ve not won the tournament since 1966, they have a player in the class of Harry Kane who is currently the top scorer and he will be a factor for them in the match.

“But modern football is more the team that can dominate the play, especially in the midfield is likely to dictate the game and create more opportunities at goal.

“The Croatian team look to have one of the best midfielders in the world when you look at Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric in their team. Though I feel England have a very good chance but I see Croatia qualifying for the final.”

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Southgate’s men may have eliminated Colombia and Sweden to reach the semis, but the Akwa United gaffer feels England saw off weaker oppositions compared to the Croats.

“I think the easiest opponents in the quarterfinals stage was Sweden. England played a weaker opposition. Croatia defeated tougher opponents if you look back at how they dealt with Argentina, defeating them and our Nigeria team to finish on top and prove they were the best in group D,” he continued.

“They survived all through the round of 16 and quarterfinals against strong teams with character to reach the semi-finals. Having come this far, I believe Croatia have all it takes to reach the finals for the first time in their history.”