England take on Croatia in Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final and manager Gareth Southgate says he is not about to change his young team’s approach.
Although Croatia are the most difficult opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate’s words suggest he will continue with his attacking formation and personnel.
While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, Southgate did not indicate that he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.
But he is certainly well aware of the threat that Croatia pose in the centre of the field.
“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. The higher the level of opponent, if you press in a disorganised fashion, then you will get picked through and we have got to be conscious of that,” he said.
The contribution of Raheem Sterling remains a polarising debate in England with the Manchester City player without a goal for his country since October 2015, but Southgate says the forward’s contribution in Russia has been essential.
“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.
While England enjoyed a relatively stress-free 2-0 win over Sweden in the last-eight, Croatia had to come through a gruelling extra-time against hosts Russia and then a penalty shootout.
But Southgate thinks talk of that handing a physical advantage to England is being overplayed. In keeping with his even-handed and calm style, Southgate said his team were neither complacent nor too pumped up for Wednesday’s clash at the Luzhniki Stadium, England’s first World Cup semi-final since 1990.
Here is all you need to know about when and where to watch the second semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup:
When and where will the match be played?
The semi-final between Croatia and England will be played on 11 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
How do I watch the match live?
The match will be shown live on SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 2 HD, SONY TEN 3 and SONY TEN 3 HD.
What time will the live coverage start?
The live coverage of the FIFA World Cup will begin at 10.30 pm with a pre-match show. The semi-final will start at 11.30 pm.
Where can I follow the matches online?
The matches will be streamed live on SonyLIV. You can also follow live updates at firstpost.com.
With inputs from Reuters
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Jul 11, 2018 13:07:14 IST