Croatia vs. England
|Date & Time||Wednesday July 11, 2018, 2:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: England +130 / Draw +225 / Croatia +217 -- Over/Under:
We have World Cup semifinal action on Wednesday as Croatia takes on England from the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow.
Croatia has had a nervy path to the semifinals, with each of their first two knockout stage matches going to a penalty shootout, including their quarterfinal victory over host Russia. The Russians took the lead 31 minutes in but the lead lasted just eight minutes before Andrej Kramaric equalized for Croatia, heading the ball past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. The match remained deadlocked through 90 minutes before Domagoj Vida gave the Croats the lead in the first half of extra time. Croatia couldn’t escape though as Mario Fernandes tied for Russia leading to penalties where Croatia took down the hosts 4-3 from the spot. Croatia out possessed Russia 64%-36% while outshooting Russia 17-13. The Russians had the better quality looks however, outshooting Croatia 7-3 in terms of shots on target.
England reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 28 years with a 2-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday morning. Harry Maguire gave the Three Lions the 1-0 lead at the half hour mark before Dele Alli doubled the advantage just before the stroke of the hour mark and that was all England would need to take down the defensive-minded Swedes. England out possessed Sweden 57%-43% and outshot the Swedes 12-7 with Sweden holding a slight 3-2 advantage in terms of shots on target.
Head-to-head, these two side have not met since 2009 when England dismantled Croatia in World Cup qualifying for the tournament in South Africa, to the tune of a pair of wins by a combined score line of 9-2.
Three of the four knockout stage matches between these two sides have gone to penalties, so if you have an option to bet on this match going to a shootout, I’d suggest taking a chance on it. However, in terms of picking a side, I didn’t really like how Croatia struggled to break through against Russia. Sure, the Croats owned a ton of possession, but a lot of that game was played in the midfield when Croatia was trying to pass their way through the Russian defense. Plus, Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic looked to be somewhat injured in that match, so one has to wonder if that will affect him here. England has looked impressive up to this point, and has everything going for them in terms of pace and production. I like England to advance to the final with a win here.