Mario Mandzukic sent an ominous message to Jordan Pickford ahead of England v Croatia

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England fans never thought they'd see the day, but their national team has made it to the FIFA World Cup semi-final for the first time in 28 years.

They will be hoping for a better outcome though, as many adults will remember the crushing defeat on penalties to West Germany at Italia 90.

The opposition comes in the form of Croatia, who have had a nerve-racking passage to the last four, winning two penalty shootouts against Denmark and the hosts Russia to seal a date in Moscow with the Three Lions.

Croatia's most likely goalscoring threat comes in the form of the experienced Mario Mandzukic, who's netted 31 times for his country, including against Denmark in their round of 16 clash.

Praising his semi-final opposition in the pre-match press conference, the Juventus striker said; "England was one of the favourites for me before tournament because they have a young, hungry team with no international movie stars."

There was much debate and speculation before the tournament about who would be Gareth Southgate's first-choice goalkeeper, with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope all being considered.

Everton stopper Pickford has kept his grip on the number one shirt though and hasn't let go, and showed his world-class abilities in a fine performance against Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Mandzukic though believes his attacking compatriots have all the tools to unlock England's granite defence and force their way past Pickford.


"We've seen that he [Pickford] is doing very well at the World Cup," said Mandzukic.

"He has good potential and I'm sure he has a bright future. [But] I believe someone will find a way to surprise him."

Very ominous.

Whilst it's likely that Croatia will pose more of a threat on-paper than Sweden did, with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic attacking them, Southgate's lions will fear no-one as they look to create a passage to the Luzhniki on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate
Sweden Football
Croatia Football
Denmark Football
Jack Butland
Jordan Pickford
Nick Pope
Mario Mandzukic
Russia Football
Germany Football
England Football
World Cup

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