Live: A countdown to England’s World Cup semi-final with Croatia
Can England make their first final since 1966?
The teams are in and England remain unchanged from their quarter-final victory over Sweden on Saturday:
Preparations under way in the England dressing room with the starting line-ups due to be announced shortly.
England’s leading wicket-taker James Anderson is as ready for this evening as he was for the semi-final against Germany in 1990:
With two hours to go until kick-off Simon Peach, chief football writer at the Press Association, is already in place ready to cover what could be a truly memorable night for the Three Lions.
“While there will be tension and excitement in the air in a few hours, for now pop music filled the empty Luzhniki Stadium,” he said.
“A few England fans have got in early to put up their flags behind the goal, with Luton, Southampton, QPR and Stoke among the hordes of team represented.
“The cavernous stadium has been completely remodelled since my last visit here for the World Athletics Championships. I am expecting a few more fans than five years ago, too.”
Nicked a lift to the stadium with all the players families, thanks Jordan’s Mum Mrs Pickford for getting me on 😂 pic.twitter.com/jS0Rnd7RhN— Chris Kamara (@chris_kammy) July 11, 2018
Your Majesty may I respectfully suggest and recommend a knighthood for Gareth Southgate win or lose tonight. #knighthoodforGareth— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) July 11, 2018
4pm .. The party is about to start .. Enjoy it everyone .. Win or Lose we are very lucky to have a group of lads who have made us all very proud .. also whatever the result don’t go acting like idiots jumping all over things .. Act like OUR Manager .. #Humble #Class #Dignity— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) July 11, 2018
England’s Dominic Inglot will be playing in the Wimbledon men’s doubles semi-finals on Thursday alongside his partner Franko Skugor, who is Croatian.
“I think we (England) are going to come out on top today,” Inglot told Sky Sports News.
“I will be feeling good about myself and then it will be my responsibility to bring Franko back up after being a little bit disappointed tonight after Croatia’s result, but I am pretty comfortable I will be able to do that and we will be ready to go tomorrow.
“I will tell him how good he is at tennis, remind him about that, to bring his confidence back up.”
Skugor has a different view and is already planning his celebrations: “He is trying (to tease me) but I just told him I will show up tomorrow in a Croatia jersey and give him a hug.”
Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford has been impressed with Southgate’s achievements in Russia. Speaking ahead of today’s Tour de France action, he said: “What a brilliant job Gareth Southgate and all the team have done.
“He’s been around the world – we went to the Super Bowl together last year – he’s there learning, he’s taken a very modern approach and blended that with his own knowledge of football and the conventional wisdom in football, blended it into his own programme which has stood him in great stead.
“His demeanour, his calmness, his determination has filtered into the entire team.”
Former England captain Steven Gerrard is confident of victory. The Rangers manager, speaking at a press conference to preview a Europa League preliminary round game against Macedonian side FC Shkupi, said: “I have been so pleased and happy to watch the players perform. They have done the country proud. It seems every hurdle they have faced they have been able to get over it and over it comfortably.
“Tonight will be the biggest test for them. Croatia deserve respect. They have some wonderful players, but I do predict an England win. I think with the energy, the organisation, the confidence and feelgood factor then England are a force who are capable of going the whole way.
“I suspect there is a lot of pressure off all the shoulders at the moment so England are a dangerous team in this competition.”
Our hard working team in A&E are backing England all the way but enjoy yourselves responsibly ✅ Drink plenty of water🥤 & have something to eat if you’re having a few beers 🍻 Don’t let the side down and end up in A&E 👍🏥🚑— Aintree Hospital (@AintreeHospital) July 11, 2018
#ENGCRO #ComeOnEngland #ItsComingHome ⚽️ #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/a27JwQnwJl
After 4 weeks in Moscow, I finally get to go to a game. And what a game. Come on England. 🤞🤞🤞— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 11, 2018
Steve McClaren always said Southgate was his most important signing, but little could he have known where the defender's career would take him. https://t.co/oaACWtMIpz— Damian Spellman (@DamianSpellman) July 11, 2018
Great memories against Croatia. Go and make more of your own special memories today lads and make history. Let’s get another step closer to bringing it home! Good luck @england 🏴🦁👍🏼 #ThreeLions #Eng #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/rwfnZur4DR— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) July 11, 2018
Whatever happens I’ll still love my brother Slav ❤🏴🇭🇷 pic.twitter.com/xNpr5sAPuw— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) July 11, 2018
#ENG #ENG #ENG— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 11, 2018
Gareth Southgate says @England’s semi-final against Croatia is an opportunity to make history...
Will the Three Lions reach their first #WorldCupFinal since 1966?#CROENG pic.twitter.com/sPEQVywNnH
David Ginola is hoping England will join France in the final. The former France international told talkSPORT: “France v England is the nicest final you could get. Going back through the history of England and France, then having a battle on Sunday between both countries after Brexit and everything – there is something very special in the air. I would love to see Gareth Southgate and Didier Deschamps sitting on the bench on Sunday, thinking about lifting the trophy.”
What a game tonight. The biggest game since the Euro 96 Semi Final . I know every player will do their best to get into the World Cup Final. Come on England! pic.twitter.com/NWn99Vz9iq— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) July 11, 2018
Anxious not to miss the 7pm kick-off, England fan Justin Rose has warned there better not be any slow play this afternoon as he takes part in the pre-tournament pro-am ahead of the Scottish Open at Gullane. The world number three joked: “My playing partners better pick up if they are having a tough hole, because I’m walking off the course at 6.30pm, however many holes we play!”
Jamie Carragher hopes England will seize the early initiative when the game gets under way. The former England defender told Sky Sports News: “The type of game England should want is a fast game, to use their pace and energy. I think Croatia are an older team who will look to slow the game down, play a possession game with (Ivan) Rakitic and (Luka) Modric. England can’t afford the game to be like that.
“England need to make a fast start. Croatia have also played extra time in their last two games. England need to capitalise on that, with the energy and pace they have.”
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand has expressed his confidence for tonight. Ferdinand told BBC Radio Five Live: “There are some top players and world-class players in this Croatia team, but I don’t think they are a team for us to fear. I genuinely believe we will get through this 2-0 or 3-0. Everything is pointing towards us having a comfortable win.”