World Cup 2018: Day 24 at a glance

Gareth Southgate’s England bid for a place in the semi-finals before Russia face Croatia

Jesse Lingard trains ahead of England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with Sweden. Photograph: Anatoly Maltsev/EPA

Jesse Lingard trains ahead of England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with Sweden. Photograph: Anatoly Maltsev/EPA

 

THE MATCHES

QUARTER-FINALS
Sweden v England, (3.0, Samara, RTÉ2/BBC) Betting: Sweden 19-5, England 19-20, Draw 8-5
Russia v Croatia (7.0, Sochi, RTÉ2/ITV) Betting: Russia 3-1, Croatia 5-4, Draw 2-1

ONE TO WATCH

After cruising through the group stages - thrashing Argentina in the process - Croatia moved from being many people’s dark horses to win the World Cup to being seen as genuine contenders. But then Zlatko Dalic’s side were brought back to earth with a bang against Denmark in the last-16. Croatia huffed and puffed against the Danes, unable to recreate the tidy but effective football which saw them into the knockout stages.

However Russia’s penalty shootout win over Spain could have provided the perfect blueprint for Croatia to beat the hosts in Sochi. Spain dominated possession - playing over 1,200 passes - yet hardly created a chance. Croatia have similar passing ability but now know they need to be more clinical and direct - meaning Ivan Rakitic will be crucial to their hopes of progression.

Ivan Rakitic’s Croatia take on Russia on Saturday night for a place in the last four. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP
Ivan Rakitic’s Croatia take on Russia on Saturday night for a place in the last four. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Like Luka Modric, Rakitic’s passing is metronomic, however he also has a ruthless edge running from midfield. He has scored 30 goals in 214 games for Barcelona - including scoring in the 2015 Champions League final - while 15 in 96 international appearances is a decent return. Along with Modric, Rakitic can give Croatia the upper hand in midfield against Russia, while linking with Mario Mandzukic and providing the incisive edge Spain’s midfield failed to produce.

YOUNG GUN

“He is 19, came through our youth system and is built like Jean Tigana was for France. But [TIGANA]never got into the limelight there until he was about 24, and I think that will be the same with Lingard.” Alex Ferguson’s comments on Jesse Lingard, made in 2012, have proven prescient. At the age of 25-years-old, Jesse Lingard has become a key player for Manchester United and England.

While traditionally seen as an attacking midfielder, Lingard thrives in a deeper role, playing as a runner. He ran a staggering 15.3km in England’s win over Colombia, providing zest and verve throughout. He enjoyed a fine domestic season, scoring 13 goals - including an impressive glut over Christmas - and chipped in with a stunner in the 5-0 win over Panama.

Many people find his off-field persona grating - he’s a product of the social media era - but ‘J-Lingz’ is quickly becoming a fan favourite and a symbol of all that’s good about this England side.

DID YOU KNOW

England broke the habit of a lifetime by beating Colombia on penalties in the last-16 - their first ever World Cup shootout victory. But how were they able to banish the spot kick demons? Through rigorous practice. Indeed, Kieran Tripper said afterwards England had “practiced and practiced” their penalties - often with heavy legs at the end of gruelling training sessions. There were also no volunteers, with each penalty-taker knowing their role before the drama unfolded - a far cry from previous England sides.

Kieran Trippier scores England’s fourth penalty against Colombia. Photograph: Alex Morton/Getty
Kieran Trippier scores England’s fourth penalty against Colombia. Photograph: Alex Morton/Getty

GOLDEN BOOT

6 – Harry Kane (England, above).
4 – Romelu Lukaku (Belgium); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).
3 – Mbappé (Fra), Dzyuba (Rus), Cheryshev (Rus), Cavani (Uru), Mina (Col), Costa (Spa).

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