Tomorrow at 3 p.m. there will be a remake of the 2018 World Cup semi-final between Croatia and England. The two nations are used to playing in international competition, for better or for worse.
A perfect alternation between the two nations. Since 2004, England and Croatia have been eliminated in turn in international competitions: England eliminates Croatia at Euro 2004, Croatia eliminates England at Wembley during the qualifiers for Euro 2008, then the ‘England eliminated them in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. The last two encounters date back to 2018, when the Vatreni eliminated the Three Lions in the semi-finals after extra time on a goal from Mandzukic, and vice versa in November when Kane took the Croats out of the League of Nations. From their first match, the two best enemies meet. Yet three years later, the two teams have changed a lot, and even if by following the perfect alternation the Croats should win, nothing is less certain. At Wembley, the English will be able to count on their supporters and their new forces, when the checkered selection is trying to renew itself after the retirement of many executives.
A rejuvenated England, which gains in quality
If you look at the starting team that faced Croatia in the semi-final of the World Cup, only the English midfielder has really changed. The system has also changed. From a 3-5-2 to an offensive 4-3-3, Mount and Rice took their places in the middle, replacing Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard. New heads symbolic of a renewal of the Three Lions, who trust the young players who hatch in the Premier League. Today 23 of the 26 selected play in the English league, many of which played in the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City on May 29 (1-0). Among them, Mason Mount, 22 years old and the face of this youthful English team which does not hide its ambition: “We want to write history, the one no one has ever written before. I think with this young group we can absolutely do it. “
This rejuvenated England, with a multitude of talented players on each line and performing in their clubs favorite part of the Euro. Former players like Gary Cahill, Danny Welbeck and Fabian Delph had to put their boots on to make way for newcomers who have nothing to envy them. Among them are players who make lovers of fine play dream: Aston Villa number 10 Jack Grealish, Dortmund’s 18-year-old attacking midfielder Jude Bellingham or his club teammate Jadon Sancho. In addition to these multiple talents, she will be able to count on her supporters at Wembley during all the group stages, with the possibility of playing the final at home. To see if all these ingredients are sufficient so that the English can once again sing the famous: “It’s coming home! ”
A renewal also in Croatia, but a complicated handover
In Croatia, we start with fewer ambitions than on the English side. And for good reason, among the starting XI who became vice-world champion in 2018, three major players have decided to retire internationally: Subasic, Rakitic and Mandzukic. Even Dejan Lovren had for a time announced his international retirement, before reversing his decision when Croatia lost 6-0 to Spain in the League of Nations. Today the Vatreni are in reconstruction, oscillating between convincing matches and absolute purges. Mandzukic has not really been replaced, Kovacic has replaced Rakitic, and Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper, followed by many European clubs Livakovic, has replaced Livakovic. Coach Zlatko Dalic, still in place since the wonderful epic of 2018, continues to advocate attacking football.
With all these changes, Croatia prefers to focus on its group matches. In an interview for Ultimo Diez, striker Ante Budimir remains moderate about Croatian ambitions: “We can not wait to pass these hens and after, anything is possible. I don’t want to go too far and say: “We’re going to win!” ” However Croatia does not lack young talents: Brekalo the winger in great shape with Wolfsburg, Gvardiol the left side recently signed by RB Leipzig, or even Ivanusec, versatile attacking midfielder from Dinamo Zagreb. For these newcomers, integration into a group which has undoubtedly written the most beautiful page in the history of the Croatian team is not the most obvious. The coach himself recognizes having to work on this issue. It is therefore with this new Croatian generation, which also gives pride of place to those unveiled late (Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic among others), that the Vatreni will try to thwart the predictions at Wembley.