England has 3 massive advantages heading into the Croatia clash — and they could determine who makes the World Cup final

Business Insider | 7/11/2018 | Alan Dawson
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England and Croatia contest an all-European 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinal on Wednesday evening.

Croatian players like Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, and Mario Mandžukić have all impressed at the tournament in Russia, but some of the team may be suffering burnout.

Croatia - Soccer - England - Players - Recovery

Croatia has been forced to play more soccer than England, it has older players, and recovery may be an issue ahead of this evening's encounter.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren also has a poor history when it comes to handling World Cup top scorer Harry Kane, as the pair have gone head-to-head in the Premier League — a battle Kane resoundingly won.

Advantages - England - Gareth - Southgate - Men

With key advantages favouring England, Gareth Southgate's men may well be poised to teach Croatia an historic lesson.

Read all of Business Insider's World Cup coverage here.

Croatia - Lot - England - English - Country

Croatia has a lot to thank England for when it comes to soccer. After all, it was the English who introduced the country to the sport, in its modern form, in the late 19th century.

The first soccer match ever recorded in Croatia was in 1873, according to The Palgrave International Handbook of Football and Politics, and was played by English workers who were building a factory in Rijeka, a coastal town approximately 160 kilometres west of Zagreb.

Sailors - Sport - Croatia - Decades - Cities

English sailors helped popularise the sport in Croatia over the decades that followed, in seaside cities like Zadar, Trogir, and Split. English engineers then helped push soccer further into the country and professional soccer clubs began to form. Eventually, a league was founded and a set of rules was needed. So, Croatians naturally turned to the English Football Association, the oldest FA on the planet, to establish the laws that helped the game gain structure.

A lot has happened between that first recorded soccer game in Croatia and today. But 145 years after that random game in Rijeka, the Croatia national team...
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