Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Gary Neville's World Cup predictions are very impressive in hindsight

Russian fans sad but proud after World Cup exit 24,000 fans thank Russian players for fantastic World Cup display (PHOTOS)
Rita Gibson | 10 July, 2018, 17:57

O2 Academy has proved to be a popular haunt for England fans during the World Cup, providing an atmospheric arena to soak up an evening of football on the big screen.

England, meanwhile, reached the semifinals for the first time in 28 years with the help of eight goals from set-pieces, more than any other side in the tournament, including three penalties.

But this time around, the Didier Deschamps tutored squad looks fired up to go for broke as they seek to emulate the class of France '98 squad of which Deschamps was the World Cup winning captain. With his absence, coach Martinez may have to change his formation.

Monaco keeper Subasic is understood to have missed training as a precaution, so as not to aggravate his problematic hamstring, while Lovren's unspecified injury is not thought to be serious enough to keep him out of the semi-final.

"They play very direct football, dangerous, fast, and they are really good at setpieces, and dangerous at corner kicks".

In terms of pedigree, France have what it takes to go all the way, while Belgium have the skills, both have beaten some of the best en route and, statistically, the Red Devils hold the upper hand.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid colleague Modric tips ace to stay
Barca are also aware that matching Hazard's salary at Chelsea would make him one of the highest-paid players at Camp Nou. They have to find new idols and exalt them.

The Three Lions booked their spot in the semi-finals of the competition with a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday in Samara. Along with Ivan Rakitic, the pair are lynchpins in the team's most deadly territory, and defender Harry Maguire identified them as players which England's defenders will also have to keep an eye on.

Maguire is now an England hero, after his performance in Russian Federation, where he has been one of Gareth Southgate's star players.

Yet it is England's creative, dynamic and intelligent midfield that will need to be on the top of its game against Croatia.

"The results of the two semi-final matches will of course depend on the four teams' performances and strategies", said an unnamed organiser of the event.

Kane is now leading the Golden Boot race at this summer's World Cup with six goals, helping his side to the semi-finals of the competition in the process.

And so in England, 1966 seems but yesterday and the names of World Cup winners Bobby Moore or Geoff Hurst are present in English hearts and minds.

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