England's set-piece mastery reaping rewards at World Cup

His mid-season injury looks an even bigger shame now, with England denied an invaluable option for their biggest World Cup game in 28 years.

Eight of the Three Lions' 11 goals have come as a result of set-pieces, the most of any team since Portugal in 1966 - incidentally the only time England have won the World Cup.

For Didier Deschamps Les Bleus side the time is now for their star-studded roster to show what they are truly capable of after a run of less than thrilling performances on the way to the semi-finals.

Leading SA bookmakers BET.co.za have installed France as 2/1 for the overall title, followed by England (5/2), Belgium (13/5) and Croatia (4/1).

The two teams will play in Moscow to decide who makes the final on Sunday. "However, I do hope to talk about Croatia and this World Cup for years".

While France have their own plethora of attacking superstars, it will be defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante who holds the key to victory for Les Bleus. I'm really happy with the coach and the players.

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The Atletico Madrid defender was substituted off in the seventh minute of extra time in Croatia's shootout win over hosts Russian Federation on Saturday, and Marca (h/t The Sun's Richard Forrester) reported he won't recover in time for their tussle with the Three Lions. "There is pressure but also enjoyment of being in the World Cup semi-finals", Mandzukic said.

Before this year's installment, the Vatreni - in the midst of their own "Golden Generation" - had long-failed to replicate 1998's famed generation and shine on the worldwide stage.

Going past the Croatian dressing room, on the way to the mixed zone here at the Fischt Stadium on Saturday night, one could hear them celebrating inside.

"Modric was very good but Rakitic was absent". They've lined up in freaky formations to confuse their markers - like against Colombia in the round of 16 where four players stood in a row before splintering off. I could see this turning into a bit of a frantic match, as both teams are playing the biggest match of their generation and nerves could play a part in all of that.

The Swedes, however, did create chances, but England No. 1 Jordan Pickford pulled off a couple of impressive saves to give the Three Lions their first clean sheet of the tournament.

However, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, right-back Sime Vrsaljko and centre-back Dejan Lovren were all absent from the part of the session open to media.

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