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Gareth Southgate says England face toughest World Cup test against Croatia

11 July 2018

"Croatia have world-class players like Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic, players who are playing in the top clubs". They put in another display of that ilk on Tuesday. "You don't want to watch it back but we know how important it was, going into the World Cup, that we had to go back through it to come out stronger". As we regroup, he turns to me and says, "right that's enough, time to lift the tempo, let's get about them".

Croatia have yet to lose at this summer's World Cup, having blitzed through the group stage with wins over Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland, before edging past Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties.

"Health has to be number one, but to play for the Croatian team, to play in the World Cup semi-final, I do not need to even say that I will be giving it 300% to be fit". "Like one heart, one soul". I felt something odd in my knee and after talking with the doctor on the sideline we decided I should come off.

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"This is an incredible result for a small country like Croatia". The center-back will be key to limiting England's threat from set pieces and will be a useful weapon in the opposition box, too.

While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, Southgate's language does not indicate he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.

Despite the much-vaunted attack of teenager Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, France's defence proved the difference as they shut down Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku and they showed they will be hard to beat on Sunday.

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Lovren continued: "I have all respect for Harry Kane. That's why there haven't been many England fans here", said Mark Jowsey, 46, a butcher from Newcastle.

Croatia's squad has an average age of 27.9 while England, along with France, are the second youngest squad at the World Cup behind Nigeria at 26.

"That is probably because he does not get more goals".

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The contribution of Raheem Sterling remains a polarizing debate in England with the Manchester City player without a goal for his country since October, 2015 but Southgate says the forward's contribution in Russian Federation has been essential. - Croatia scored two headers in its last match against Russian Federation - only one of its previous 29 World Cup goals was scored via a header.

Gareth Southgate says England face toughest World Cup test against Croatia