England midfielder Dele Alli believes he 'can play better' against Croatia

Paola Ditto
Luglio 11, 2018

No other soccer nation dwells on decades of failure quite like the English.

The better footballers should come out on top.

England manager Gareth Southgate says he is not about to change his team's approach for Wednesday's World Cup semi-final against Croatia, saying he wants the "same again" from his young side.

When the song first was released, the chorus proclaimed "Three lions on a shirt/Jules Rimet still gleaming/Thirty years of hurt/never stopped me dreaming".

Alli was part of the England squad who crashed out of Euro 2016 with defeat by Iceland and he said Southgate had encouraged the players to confront that memory before the tournament. Southgate wants to break stereotypes, and not just on the field.

He said: "I didn't feel nervous or anything like that".

England play Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday night with a place in only their second major tournament final on the line.

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.

Right back Sime Vrsaljko limped off during the quarterfinal win over host Russian Federation and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic had a hamstring injury during extra time but remained in the match. England are favourites at $2.4 compared to Croatia's 3.65.

"But England is a happy team, is a team you look at them and you see happiness, is a team that they went from even candidate to candidate and I just hope that they are themselves and not like Belgium that the majority of the players were not themselves".

The contribution of Raheem Sterling remains a polarising 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. "We can't concentrate too much on them, we have to concentrate on ourselves and that's exactly what we will be doing going into the game". "The age of the players, the improvement in the players, the hunger in the players has been apparent for everybody to see".

"Finals have to be won because we have still not got over the one we lost two years ago", he said.

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