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Jamie Vardy sends Gareth Southgate update ahead of World Cup semi-final

11 July 2018

After making history with England's first-ever penalty-shootout win at a World Cup against Colombia, the Three Lions did what many of their predecessors would have failed to do-get through a quarter-final against a team of Sweden's calibre in relative comfort.

"The hunger in the players has been apparent for all to see". Although they've yet to beat anyone elite, they've struck upon a formula that brings out the best in players like Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire, and really shouldn't mess with a thing - especially on set pieces, from which they've scored six goals.

"It's another step in a journey".

These two have already faced off this season in Real Madrid vs Liverpool Champions League final.

"I was not a renowned fashion icon through my playing career so it's rather odd to be one now", Southgate joked.

Croatia have shipped four goals in their last three matches, with Lovren playing a full part in two of those and coming on as a sub in the other. Kevin De Bruyne is, in fact, the only player to have created more chances left at the tournament than Modric.

"I can imagine the same kind of scenes - very great and positive atmosphere back in England". Still, the Croatians have shown resilience, especially keeper Danijel Subasic, coming out on top despite an nearly comical list of setbacks that would have done in most teams.

England head into the game as favourites with the bookies but most expect a tight and exhilarating encounter. Now, up against an exhausted opponent and with their first chance at worldwide glory in 52 years nearly within grasp, the question is, can they keep it together?

The big Croatian looks likely to shake off the hamstring injury that hampered him against the Russians and would be an imposing figure between the sticks for England's penalty takers if a place in the final came down to spot-kicks.

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There's previous here as well.

Not the threat of Croatia, Luka Modric's ability to carve open the best defences in the world or even Raheem Sterling's ongoing search for his first goal of the tournament.

But Lovren said he enjoyed taking on the world's best as he looks to showcase his talent on a huge stage. "Just do your best and it ends how it ends". Right now, though, everyone is enjoying the ride and Southgate admits that the frenzied support back in England is beginning to filter through to his players in Russian Federation.

Southgate explained: "We are enjoying the journey".

"I wasn't a renowned fashion icon throughout my playing career [so] it's rather unusual to feel that way now", said Southgate, England's latest style guru.

If that were to happen, you would favour Maguire to win the aerial battle.

England and Croatia have set up an unexpected semifinal clash. The medal you win doesn't say how you played, or the scorelines.

Croatia have needed penalty shoot-outs to overcome Denmark and Russian Federation in the knockout stage.

Russia's Mario Fernandes bombing forward from full-back and wide man, Alexander Samedov, caused Strinic problems throughout the game and Gareth Southgate will have identified this as an area for England to exploit.

Jamie Vardy sends Gareth Southgate update ahead of World Cup semi-final