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WC semi-final: Croatia 2 England 1 - football is NOT coming home after all!!
#1
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/live/football/43976787
England came up against a good footie team tonight that matched the guts and determination of the England players who 'put in their all' - couldn't ask for any more effort from them but "gotta take your chances". However, Croatia with midfield magicians like Modric and Rakitic keeping their mid area 'ticking over' (the best of Real Madrid and Barca on display), definitely the better side with a higher quality about them and 'pulled it off' in dramatic fashion with that predatory Mandzukic 'strike'. So the World Cup finalists are decided and England move on to a 3rd place decider v Belgium after an unexpectedly successful campaign in Russia. IMO France strong favourites to win the final, never lost to Croatia, and will prob be too powerful for Modric and co. But it's a one-off final and it's good to see two good football teams finally 'locking horns' in this match and I doubt it will be a one-sided affair. My main concern re Croatia is, "How much 'puff' have they got left for this final"? It has been a tough innings for them from the very beginning of their campaign in the World Cup tourney - a real bunch of heroes and a great achievement for such a small country!
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#2
The game was won in midfield and their class in that department shone through in the end!!Disappointing obviously, but this England team has as you say done far better than anyone expected and certainly has a lot of promise for the future!! Southgate deserves a lot of credit for the way he handled everything, he just needs to find a midfield general to plug in the middle.
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#3
Yep! One observation for me was the midfield area where England do not have a true no 10 mid player to call upon. But they showed a lotta good control and composure during this campaign - grounds for optimism, no doubt, and it's an ongoing 'project'!
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#4
think it was a good ride whilst it lasted. shame that on the game when it counted harry kane lost that midas touch after the season he had.

the only complaints i have from tonight is that after they scored, we hardly had a shot in anger, we threatened at times but seemed to want to take that one extra flicked pass or though ball to work the perfect goal, when hitting it was the better option.

the other positive for me is the younger age groups are champions at their level. be interesting to see how Southgate gets them fitted in, especially when some are struggling for game time at their clubs.

i think the two main names to look out for are foden at man city and sancho at dortmund
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#5
Aye, a good observation re 'shots on target'. They only had a total of two shots on target in this game and in that previous tough match v Colombia they only had one shot on target and that was Kane's goal/pk. That's a poor return in an attacking sense. However, this tourney is a 'footie marathon' and I thought Kane, and other players, started to look a bit 'leggy' in the last two KO matches, could even be 'carrying an injury'!
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#6
Thought they played excellently but should have killed the game off in the first half
Huge credit to Croatia who changed things round and pinned back England`s system, bit surprised Southgate let this happen and didn't reshuffle after the way their wingers were starting to impact during the first half
We played some lovely football at times and the future looks very bright
Sorry not to be facing our traditional French enemy in the final though that would've been massive
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#7
We played well first half, and Croatia didn't. Unfortunately Kane and Lingard proved their pudding has been slightly over-egged and missed relatively easy chances, just one of which would almost certainly have won us the game.

I'm not attempting to be super-critical by saying that when the team comes home and the hype dies down we need to make a realistic appraisal. I like Southgate and he created a good atmosphere and a team that was pleasant to watch which really tried, but it would be unfair to him not to discuss certain things like:-

1. He decided his team very early, stuck by it, remained conservative over changes and when the back-up players were offered a chance it was en-masse, which obviously reduced any individual's opportunity to shine.
2. In common with most other managers at the World Cup he took along players who remained unused or very little used and left out players who might have had the creativity or the goalpower to make a difference in a Croatia scenario - Lallana, Grealish, Abraham, young Jadon Sancho even. So you would ask of any manager, did he get it right?
3. There've been few players of searing pace at this World Cup. Mbappe has looked capable of scorching the grass in attack, but the others have been defenders - Advincula of Peru, Varane of France and our Kyle Walker. The question that needs to be asked is, during our Qualifiers Walker was an attacking threat, who provided chances and stretched defences to provide space for our forwards. Once confined to our three-man defence he became the least-likely to push forward. Did we waste him?
4. What does it say for the system we played that when we came up against teams playing traditional strong centre backs, Kane rarely looked like scoring in open play and was forced to drop deeper in order to focus our attack.

I'm sure everyone else on here could and would question some of Mr Southgate's decisions. That's part of being a fan and watching games, and we do see things differently from the pros .......... That's not a bad thing. Sometimes questions have obvious answers, very often the manager will be right ........

For the future Tammy Abrahams and Solanki need games and need to come through. We can't rely on just Harry and a speedster. Tammy in particular just spent a season going backwards. Similarly Grealish needs to get with a team in top football and either prove his talent, become a playmaker or settle for being a playboy, he's 22, it's time.

Well as he did, I'm looking at Pickford and seeing the smallest keeper in the tournament. Butland has the size and once looked a future England keeper, it's time for him to learn the lessons or settle for a quiet life in the Championship. Pope I'd like to see him given a chance ........ but who else have we coming through to challenge Pickford?

Just a few of my thoughts ......... A few minutes into the second half, like many of you I'm sure, I said Croatia will definitely score. They were the better team, but whether they have the capacity to trouble France I'm not so sure. France can put up some stumbling blocks in midfield and if Greizeman and Mbappe are on I think they a just the kind of players Croatia will struggle against. I'm really thinking Croatia will do well to keep 11 players on the pitch.
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#8
There were definitely a few carrying injuries. What's the point of a large squad if you're not prepared to use them? If Kane wasn't fit, captain or not, he shouldn't have played.
[Image: 3857.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&f...af5941b37e]
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#9
Southgate is on a hiding to nothing with some people because he took a chance on Kane and it appears he was maybe carrying an injury. If Kane had scored the winning goal the decision would be acclaimed as a stroke of genius. The can`t win even although he took England to a World cup semi final for the first time in nearly 30 years. English players make up LESS than 30% of the total number of players in the EPL that must be considered a major achievement.
I like Southgate and what he`s trying to do and I believe his team will get better and more successful as time goes by.
I predict England will win Euro 2020 - and I`m a Scotsman.
Amelia Chaffinch likes this post
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#10
One thing that really is annoying is passing back to our goalkeeper even when the ball is deep in there half, far too much of it

Some excellent English keepers starting to come through, many were in the Championship last year (Some on loan)
Biggest gripe is clubs who will spend 10m+ on bringing in a new player each time rather than giving a reserve or academy lad a game, there looks to be some great young players coming through at the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd but will they really get a chance?
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