England vs Croatia World Cup semi-final preview

Hello folks, I’d like to start off by saying you’re welcome to anyone who took my advice and went against my picks yesterday. You had a nice 2-0 day and have some spending money for the second half of the semis today. They say a broken clock is right twice a day but with my soccer picks lately I am more like a broken clock that keeps switching time zones. On to the pitch we go where football is officially two games from coming home. If you haven’t listened to Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) by The Lightning Seeds 8 times on your commute into work then you must be Croatian…or listening to Rogan. Like a well formatted MLA document, England used a couple of well placed headers to swat Sweden aside in the Quarterfinals. Croatia needed penalty kicks against Russia to get here after letting up a late equalizer in extra time. Not for nothing but Russia fucking showed up this tournament kudos to them and Putin. I needed life alert after that absolute beauty of a first goal and then to send it to penalties was quite admirable. Anyway, that’s how both teams got here and the odds are as follows:

 

Croatia to advance (+145)

England to advance (-175)

Croatia +.5 (-150)

England -.5 (+120)

O 1.5 (-190)

U 1.5 (+155)

 

The Three Lions are the clear favorites here and Vegas is pulling for a low scoring game. There is so much value here for a Croatian team that has been so solid in the group stage but haven’t looked as sharp in the knockout rounds. They’ve needed penalties twice against Denmark and Russia who aren’t exactly the bell of the ball. But any time you have a midfield anchored by Modric and Rakitic you have a great shot at controlling the game and the support cast of Kramaric, Perisic, Kovavic, and Mandzukic is a team that should not be taken lightly. I look for Croatia to absorb a lot of pressure from the start and try to spring Perisic down the left side in between that back 3 of England. The back line of Croatia concerns me with Vida and Lovren anchoring it. Lovren isn’t that good for Liverpool and many of the England players (namely Harry Kane) will know how to exploit him. Vida said something about Glory to Ukraine so literally every person in Russia hates him. Look for the mostly Russian crowd to get behind England because of that dumbass.

It is waistcoat Wednesday so Gareth Southgate will have the lads controlling the game and looking for the set piece opportunities for the big guys to head home. Harry Maguire headed in the winner last game and quite possibly has the biggest head I’ve ever seen. I have seen Jack Mack and Brody’s heads and maybe combined they’d have him beat but my lord you can pick out Maguire from the Russian Space Station. Raheem Sterling has been criticized heavily for his finishing this tournament and it’s really his fault for having such a good season at Man City. Everyone forgot how awful he usually is and thought maybe it would be different. Nope. He is doing a lot of good things opening up space for Kane and Lingard to fill but I think he gets his today so look for him to score first in this game. I think England will get frustrated by the discipline from Croatia and if Modric can control the middle of the pitch against Henderson the Three Lions could be in for a long night. However if England gets an early one, Croatia might be tempted to open up and I trust Lovren back there as far as I can run without being out of breath which translates to 10 feet.

You’ve heard it time and time again, but football is coming home. Bcal has blogged about where it went, fans have chanted endlessly, and all the players are buying into it. A couple of internet sleuths tracked a private flight out of Russia on it’s way to London that could possibly have football on it. We shall see but in the end it’s hard to pick against England. Great value on everything Croatia but I’m going:

England 2 – Croatia 1 in a back and forth battle. What this means is take Croatia ML and the under.

Sterling to score first if you have some extra cash. It’s coming home folks let’s not stand in the way.

@conormc21 on twitter if you disagree with anything or want to fade me in any other sport.

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