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England face biggest World Cup match in 28 years

RUSSIA 2018: England face Croatia for the right to meet France in Sunday's World Cup final

RUSSIA 2018: England face Croatia for the right to meet France in Sunday's World Cup final

England face Croatia this evening in the biggest international match this country has seen in 28 years.

England’s last World Cup semi-final came in 1990 against West Germany, a night that saw Paul Gascoigne, brilliant throughout the tournament, shed tears after picking up a yellow card that would have seen him miss the final as a nation reconnected with a sport it had undoubtedly fallen out of love with.

The last time England won a World Cup semi-final was 52 years ago when Alf Ramsey’s side beat Portugal 2-1 to progress to the final on home soil.

History beckons for the class of 2018.

Manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed all 23 of his players are fit and ready to go. Jamie Vardy has fully recovered from the groin problem that saw him sit out the quarter-final win over Sweden, and Jordan Henderson’s tight hamstring has subsided.

City stars John Stones, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph will all hope to be involved.

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"As I have got older, I have become more conscious that it is easy to avoid challenges and avoid putting yourself on the line,” Southgate said during yesterday’s press conference in Moscow.

"But in the end, you will never know the possibilities of great success or great moments like we have had in the last few weeks.

"The brain sometimes tells you to avoid the possibility of disappointment or failure but that is going to happen.

"The key is how you respond to failure and react to it."

For Croatia, first-choice right-back Sime Vrsaljko could miss out with a knee injury suffered in the last round against Russia. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic faces a late fitness test to assess the extent of a hamstring injury.

The last time the two sides met was in 2007, as Croatia won 3-2 at Wembley to end England’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008. The Wally with the Brolly and all that…

France await the winners of tonight’s game after their semi-final win over Belgium in St. Petersburg.

Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal of the game, as France reached their second-consecutive major final having finished runners-up to Portugal at the European Championships two years ago.

Benjamin Mendy was an unused sub for France, and Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany both played the full 90 minutes for Belgium.

Tuesday’s result:

France 1-0 Belgium

Wednesday’s fixture:

Croatia v England

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