How do England’s stats compare with Croatia ahead of their semi-final clash on Wednesday?
England will face Croatia in their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years as they look to finally bring football home – but how do Gareth Southgate’s side compare with their upcoming opponents?
Here, among many other topics, we cover:
- Why Young might struggle against Rebic
- Why Dier might start
- Why Trippier could be restrained
- Why England must nullify Modric
- Why Maguire needs to be on aerial alert
England narrowly edge the Croatians 11-10 for goals scored, although six of the Three Lions’ haul came during the 6-1 rout against Panama.
Harry Kane will be at least three times more prolific than any other player on the pitch upon kick-off, with England’s talisman topping the tournament chart with six and Luka Modric being Croatia’s top scorer on two.
In addition to being more clinical, Southgate’s men have scored a tournament-topping eight goals from set pieces – a threat that will test centre-back duo Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida.
Goals from set pieces England 8 Croatia 3
Despite only scoring one goal so far, Croatia winger Ivan Perisic has attempted more shots than any other player from either squad with 13 – but has only hit the target on two occasions.
England’s Jesse Lingard is equally culpable, attempting 12 but only testing the goalkeeper twice, while Kane tops the pack for efficiency – scoring six goals from six shots on target.
Once again, Southgate will be aware of Croatia’s midfield maestros: Ivan Rakitic and Modric being their most frequent shooters.
Modric has been Croatia’s standout player in Russia – hitting a long-range stunner during the 3-0 win over Argentina and creating 14 chances so far.
Gareth Southgate will undoubtedly look to nullify the former Tottenham playmaker, in addition to fellow La Liga midfielder Rakitic (seven chances).
However, England have their own creative weapon in right-back Kieran Trippier, with the Spurs man creating 13 chances to date – more than twice as many as any team-mate.
Interestingly, three of England’s top-four creators are defenders, with Harry Maguire conjuring six, and Ashley Young and Raheem Sterling joint with five.
In terms of big chances, Kane has been fortunate in receiving five clear sights at goal – three from the penalty spot – while John Stones has found himself in clear goalscoring opportunities on three occasions – netting two of those.
With two missed, Lingard tops England’s squad for big chances spurned, but the Manchester United attacker redeemed himself with a wonder goal during the Panama goal fest.
Croatia have experimented with formations but lined up in a 4-2-3-1 against Russia, while Southgate has stuck with his preferred 3-5-2.
But both sides have several similarities in their general style of play – each averaging 55 per cent possession across the five fixtures to date.
Possession England 55% Croatia 55%
Both sides have also attempted almost exactly the same number of passes, in addition to an equal proportion of those being made in either half of the pitch.
Croatia typically control possession through Modric and Rakitic in midfield, while England dominate through centre-backs Stones, Kyle Walker and Maguire – of which the latter has been passing furthest up the pitch.
Croatia’s La Liga-based duo do not just shift the ball backwards and sideways, they are also the most likely to run with the ball, with Modric attempting 19 dribbles – seven more than England’s top dribblers Sterling and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Zlatko Dalic’s side are almost twice as likely to whip balls into the box from wide – so Maguire and Stones will need to track target man Mario Mandzukic.
England’s wing-backs will need to be aware of their opponent’s threat from wide, with Perisic hitting 19 from left wing and Ante Rebic attempting eight from the right.
Trippier has fired 15 crosses from the right flank in Russia, while Young has attempted almost half as many down the left.
Maguire is more than capable of winning the aerial battle against Mandzukic with a squad-topping 33 aerials won, ahead of centre-back partners Stones (16) and Walker (15) – while Lovren (25) presents additional aerial danger.
The Leicester defender also ranks top for 50/50 duels, winning 46 challenges – ahead of Kane (35), Trippier (32) and Stones (26).
For Croatia, Rakitic and Rebic provide considerable physical presence and will test Jordan Henderson and Young with 43 duels and 38 duels won, respectively.
Croatia were forced into extra-time for the second game running during their eventual shootout win over Russia at the weekend – edging their total distance covered in Russia to 580km.
England will undoubtedly look to capitalise on Croatian fatigue in the latter stages of the game, but Southgate’s side have also completed above-average distances with 565km so far – having been forced into extra-time against Colombia.
In terms of the players, Modric (50.8km), Rakitic (48.3km) and Perisic (47.9km) top the pack, followed by England trio Lingard, Stones and Henderson.
Both sides work equally hard with or without the ball, running slightly more when in possession – with Rakitic and Henderson being either side’s hardest worker off the ball.
With Modric excelling across the stats, England will be hoping the Champions League winner will be feeling the minutes, having clocked 517 across the five fixtures – equal with Jordan Pickford for England.
Despite qualifying from Group D with one game spare, Dalic elected not to rest his star players – like Southgate did during the 1-0 defeat to Belgium.
As a result, Croatia’s entire first team have each smashed the 420-minute mark in Russia, while only Pickford, Maguire and Stones have surpassed that threshold for England.
In terms of sprints, England have been superior against all opponents to date – but the Three Lions will be tested on Wednesday night.
Croatia have completed a higher number of sprints – 1,946 compared with 1,726. Wingers Perisic and Rebic have contributed more than 400 of those, which may restrain Trippier and Young.
Unsurprisingly, Lingard (180) and Sterling (159) are most likely to burst from the blocks for the Three Lions, followed by former club team-mates Trippier (153) and Walker (130).
Neither side has received a red card at the tournament to date, but Croatia are far more likely to produce a rash challenge – particularly if they tire.
Twelve Croatia players have received yellow cards – more than twice the number of England’s modest five – in addition to conceding 76 fouls compared with 52.
Disciplinary record Fouls conceded Yellow cards England 52 5 Croatia 76 12
Both sides have only conceded four goals to date, with Pickford making a string of world-class saves to keep his first clean sheet at the tournament against Sweden.
Goals conceded England 4 Croatia 4
Southgate will be hoping that man-of-the-match performance will boost his goalkeeper’s ratio of saves, having faced 13 shots on target, saving nine and conceding an above-average four.
In terms of England’s starting XI, calls for additional support from Eric Dier in the starting XI could be justified to help Henderson restrict Modric and out-muscle Rakitic.
In addition to the dangers posed by Croatia’s central midfielders, Young will be challenged against the pace of Rebic, while Trippier will need to time his advanced runs in order to track Perisic.
Should Perisic maintain his ratio of attempted crosses, Maguire and Stones will need to be fully alert on aerial duty – to prevent Mandzukic and others from breaching Pickford’s goal.
England will need Kane to continue his clinical form after his six-game goal streak in national colours ended in the quarter-finals, while Croatia will look to quash England’s set-piece love train to book their place in Moscow on Sunday.
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