Most Read Football

Get all the football gossip from the National Papers1

Paper Talk: Madrid want Rashford

All the day’s main back page football news, including Spanish giants chasing Marcus Rashford

Jasper Cillessen celebrates2

Nations League review: Dutch delight

Holland scored twice in the last five minutes to snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw in Germany and qualify for next year's Nations League Finals at the expense of world champions France.

Christian Pulisic3

In focus: January transfer targets

We take a look at five likely movers in the January transfer window including Borussia Dortmund's young American star Christian Pulisic.

Alex McLeish's Scotland need to beat Israel for qualification4

McLeish: Scotland need team effort

Alex McLeish believes it will be down to the whole team, not individuals to earn Scotland a big win.

Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring for England against Croatia at Wembley5

England favourites for Nations League

England’s comeback victory over Croatia has seen them installed as the 9/4 favourites to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League next summer.

Free World Cup 2018 betting tips: Croatia v England semi-final preview

Raheem Sterling is backed to play a big part for England
Raheem Sterling is backed to play a big part for England

England line-up in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 - Tom Carnduff is putting his faith in Raheem Sterling.


Recommended bets: Croatia v England

1pt Raheem Sterling to score anytime in 90 minutes at 15/4

1pt Raheem Sterling to provide an assist in 90 minutes at 9/2

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, see our transparent tipping record


If, like me, you are under the age of 28, you have never seen England play in a World Cup semi-final. If you were born earlier than 1990, it's been a long wait for this to happen again.

This is only the third time that the Three Lions have made the last four of a World Cup - and I am backing them to make it to their first final since 1966.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but I am willing to put my faith in Raheem Sterling to be involved in the goals and help England book a return to Moscow on Sunday.

The Manchester City man came into the tournament on the back of a remarkable season - scoring 23 goals and assisting a further 17 in all competitions.

He's the target of a weird obsession by certain sections of the media - with the focus pre-tournament being on a tattoo, rather than the exceptional form he found himself in heading to Russia.

Raheem Sterling attempts to go around Robin Olsen
Raheem Sterling attempts to go around Robin Olsen

Sterling did miss a great opportunity against Sweden, and luckily for England they didn't live to rue missed chances, but for me he was one of England's best performers.

The work he does tends to go unnoticed. The runs he made were difficult for the Swedish defence to deal with, he seemed to enjoy the space he was finding between the two lines.

You know Gareth Southgate will start him again on Wednesday night and rightly so. He is getting himself in the right positions, and if he keeps doing that then it will eventually pay off.

I would not use the word desperate - but you really want him to succeed here, not just for England, but to silence the doubters who would rather see him benched for the biggest game of his career.

He's a player who possesses real quality and ability - someone who is more than capable of rising to the big occasion.

The team also clearly has faith in him, which will only help his confidence. Speaking at a press conference in Repino, Eric Dier spoke of Sterling by saying: "Obviously I think, first of all, the way Raheem has handled everything throughout this process, from when we met up to now is incredible.

"The way he goes about his job is fantastic, his attitude is fantastic, his work ethic is fantastic as well.

"He offers so much to the team. His willingness to make forward runs, obviously his quality in possession, he can come short and link the play up and he can make runs behind.

"Off the ball - his work rate is incredible and I think it's so clear to see, if you were to watch back all of our games to now, the importance he has on the team.

"I think he's had a fantastic tournament so far and hopefully he can continue to have one in the next week."

Looking at the outright markets, England are once again odds-on favourites to progress - with Croatia out at 5/4.

That said, this will be far from an easy game for the Three Lions - with Croatia possessing quality in every position.

Vedran Corluka, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic celebrate after victory over Russia
Vedran Corluka, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic celebrate after victory over Russia

You also feel that we may not have seen the best of them in the knockout stages either, but then you cannot be sure if that will work for or against England.

What may be beneficial to Southgate's men is the fact that Croatia have had to settle for penalties in both of their knockout encounters - and fitness could potentially catch up with them here.

England will be tested defensively - and the battle in midfield could sway which way this tie goes.

Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric have formed a strong partnership - whilst also being able to interchange between the central and attacking midfield roles.

Equally, Jordan Henderson has been key for England this tournament - with Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli playing in advanced positions and striking when it counts.

Kieran Trippier has been a star of the tournament, with Ashley Young proving to be an important part on the opposite flank. Those two have also been a vital part of England's scoring so far - with set-pieces being a main source of goals throughout the tournament.

In all honesty, it will come as no surprise to see another one pay off for the Three Lions here - as John Stones and Harry Maguire have proved they can be goalscoring threats at the right end of the pitch.

Whatever the result may be, this England side have made a nation proud and restored some faith back into the national team. Opportunities like this don't come around often though, and you really hope that they will grab it with both hands.

Score prediction: Croatia 1-2 England (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)

Best bet: Raheem Sterling to score anytime in 90 minutes at 15/4

Alternative best bet: Raheem Sterling to provide an assist in 90 minutes at 9/2

Delight for Gareth Southgate after the win over Sweden
Delight for Gareth Southgate after the win over Sweden

Opta facts

  • This is the eighth meeting between England and Croatia, with England winning four of those games, with one draw and two Croatia wins; six of the previous seven games have also been played on a Wednesday.
  • England and Croatia have met once before at a major tournament – England won 4-2 in a group stage match at Euro 2004.
  • England are competing in their third World Cup semi-final; they won 2-1 against Portugal in 1966 on their way to winning the tournament, but lost on penalties to Germany in 1990.
  • Croatia have had eight different scorers at the 2018 World Cup – only Belgium have had more different players find the net (9).
  • England have not beaten two European nations in a single World Cup since 1982, when they beat Czechoslovakia and France.
  • England have scored 11 goals at this year’s World Cup, a joint-record along with the 11 they scored in their victorious 1966 tournament.
  • Croatia have reached the World Cup semi-finals for the second time since their first World Cup participation in 1998, which is more than the likes of Argentina, England, Italy, Portugal and Spain (1 each). The only European nations with more semi-final appearances in this period (inc. 2018) are Germany (4), France (3) and Netherlands (3).
  • Croatia reached the semi-finals via penalty shootout victories in the last 16 against Denmark and quarter-final against Russia – the only other team to win two penalty shootouts in a single World Cup were Argentina in 1990 (against Yugoslavia and Italy).
  • England had 15 shots on target in their first two 2018 World Cup matches but have attempted just six in their three games since – England had eight shots on target against Portugal in the 1966 semi-final, and four in 1990’s semi-final against Germany.
  • Croatia have only lost one of their six knockout matches at the World Cup, losing to France in the 1998 semi-final.
  • Harry Kane has scored on six of the seven days of the week for England, with Wednesday the only day he hasn’t scored on. Should he score, he’ll become just the third player to score on all seven days of the week for England, after Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard.
  • Mario Mandzukic assisted Andrej Kramaric’s goal against Russia in the quarter-final – he has been involved in four goals at the World Cup finals for Croatia (3 goals, 1 assist), with only Davor Suker involved in more (6).
  • Eight of England’s 11 goals at the 2018 World Cup have been scored via set-pieces – since 1966, the only team to equal that number in a single World Cup tournament are Portugal in 1966 (also eight goals).
  • Croatia scored two headers in their last match against Russia – only one of their previous 29 World Cup goals was scored via a header.

Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLife

Odds correct as of 1525 BST (09/07/18)

Related World Cup links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Football

Get all the football gossip from the National Papers1

Paper Talk: Madrid want Rashford

All the day’s main back page football news, including Spanish giants chasing Marcus Rashford

Jasper Cillessen celebrates2

Nations League review: Dutch delight

Holland scored twice in the last five minutes to snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw in Germany and qualify for next year's Nations League Finals at the expense of world champions France.

Christian Pulisic3

In focus: January transfer targets

We take a look at five likely movers in the January transfer window including Borussia Dortmund's young American star Christian Pulisic.

Alex McLeish's Scotland need to beat Israel for qualification4

McLeish: Scotland need team effort

Alex McLeish believes it will be down to the whole team, not individuals to earn Scotland a big win.

Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring for England against Croatia at Wembley5

England favourites for Nations League

England’s comeback victory over Croatia has seen them installed as the 9/4 favourites to win the inaugural UEFA Nations League next summer.

Football Tips

Royal Line (right) pulls clear to win the November Handicap

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in November 2018.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League

Monday's Nations League preview

The Nations League continues on Monday with the Netherlands aiming to join the final four. Tom Carnduff has three best bets.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.