The remaining finalists have been decided convincingly yesterday – France will meet Croatia on Sunday. And the loser’s finals will be played between England and Belgium on Saturday. Within the semifinals line up, the deserving two goes into the finals. Now coming back to the second semifinal match – it was the grounding of an over-hyped frenzy that surrounded the islanders.
– While the first half belonged to England, they could not capitalize on the bright start they had. On the other hand, Croatia was sluggish, slow and looked kind of out of sorts in the entire first half. England got the lucky goal in 5 minutes and then tried to play speedy counter attacking football, which created for them some half-chances. However, they failed to score and put a stamp on the match
– After the half time whistle went off, it was Croatia, Croatia and Croatia for the rest of the match. England not only were only defending, but also lost composure, their formation and organization. They were lucky that the match went into the extra time, given some of the open chances Croatia had and how the woodwork denied Mandzukic his second goal in the second half. Pickford was exceptional in the English goal and that was probably the only positive England can find.
– England forgot passing football and was back to their long balls and kick-and-run kind of football for majority of the time. In the entire match, their defense had 36 long balls passed hoping their fast forwards can pick them up and run to break the opponents defense. On the other hand, Croatian defense played only 17 long balls and was much more constructive on the field by probing the English defense through the middle as well as through the two flanks
– Tiredness was something that crept into the Croatian team. This was evident by the so many unforced errors and mispasses that was happening in the middle of the patch. But as they say, a goal can create wonders – and that was exactly the thing when Croatia got the equalizer. They were a transformed team from then onwards. On the other hand, England was panicking and failed to make an impression for most of the matches
– Finally the hype of the English team again was exposed this time. Till the semifinals, they were not “tested”, but the media failed to see that – instead they were all ga-ga on England creating a hype, which went crashing out. Even in the knockouts, they were stretched by Colombia without James Rodrigues. Further, Sweden was not that quality to play in the quarterfinals. However, they have a good nucleus of good young players who can only turn better as they go along.
– On the other hand, Croatia’s golden run with some world class players continues and will give a good fight in the finals. Only worry is their tiredness – will they be able to play “fresh” against France? Time will tell …