Can Southgate rouse England before Croatia match?

MOSCOW — It’s time for Gareth Southgate to come up with a big speech of his own.

After England gave up a tying goal to Brazil in first-half stoppage time in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, Southgate felt coach Sven-Goran Eriksson lacked inspirational oratory in the locker room at halftime.

Now the 47-year-old former England international is leading the team, which plays Croatia on Wednesday in England’s first World Cup semifinal in 28 years. The match is riveting the Land of Hope and Glory, which won its only title at home in 1966.

“Probably 18 months ago I talked to them about if you have success with England, it will be so much bigger than anything you can imagine, and I think that is probably starting to register with them now,” Southgate said after Saturday’s 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Sweden.

Southgate, who didn’t play against Brazil, took a swipe at Eriksson after the 2-1 loss, comparing the cool-speaking Swede to a Tory opposition leader widely regarded as dull.

“We needed Churchill, but we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” an unnamed defender, later identified as Southgate, was quoted as saying in a 2004 book by Joe Lovejoy.

No word whether Southgate will offer his “blood, toil, tears and sweat.” With the coach keeping his strategies close to his now-famous vest, a young roster led by Harry Kane hopes to succeed where Gary Lineker, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney failed.

England is ranked 12th in the world and Croatia 20th. The winner advances to Sunday’s final against France or Belgium, which also will be at Luzkniki Stadium.

Croatia lost its only previous semifinal match to host France in 1998. It beat Denmark in the round of 16 and host Russia in the quarterfinals this year, becoming only the second team with consecutive shootout wins in the same World Cup since Argentina defeated Yugoslavia and Italy in 1990.

“It won’t be easy for us,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said through a translator. “We will focus in the next few days to recover as much as possible. We will look for the best solutions ahead the match, considering we have a few players with minor issues after the match against Russia. It won’t be easy, but to get into the semifinals it’s a new motive for us.”

WAY BACK WHEN

In England’s last semifinal match, Andreas Brehme’s 60th-minute shot deflected off an onrushing Paul Parker at the penalty arc and looped over goalkeeper Peter Shilton to put West Germany ahead.

England tied the score when Parker’s cross bounced off Juergen Kohler and fell to Lineker, who beat goalkeeper Bodo Illgner to the far post. In the shootout, Stuart Pearce was stopped by Illgner on England’s fourth attempt, Olaf Thon converted for a 4-3 lead and Chris Waddle shot over the crossbar.

CHECKERED PAST

Croatia went ahead in the 1998 semifinals only 26 seconds into the second half when Aljosa Asanovic split the defence with a pass, and Davor Suker scored his fifth goal of the tournament. Lilian Thuram tied the score a minute later after stealing the ball from Zvonimir Boban near the Croat penalty area and exchanging passes with Youri Djorkaeff. Thuram scored the go-ahead goal with a curling shot in the 70th minute.

Colours

Croatia will wear its alternate navy-and-black jerseys and black shorts for the fifth straight match, and England will wear white shirts and white shorts. The Croats have not worn their white-and-red checkerboard shirts since their opener against Nigeria. England wore all red against Tunisia, Colombia and Sweden, and white shirts with blue shorts against Panama and Belgium. The English also wore white in the 1966 and 1990 semifinals.

HEAD TO HEAD

Croatians played for Yugoslavia before splitting off in 1990. England has four wins, two losses and one draw in the matchup, including a 4-2 victory in the group stage of the 2004 European Championship. The teams have not met since qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, when England won 4-1 in Zagreb and 5-1 at Wembley Stadium.

England goalkeeper Paul Robinson kicked at and missed a backpass from Gary Neville, allowing an own-goal in a 2-0 loss in a European qualifier in 2006. Goalkeeper Scott Carson fumbled Niki Kranjcar’s shot into the net for the opening goal as Croatia won 3-2 at Wembley the following year, causing England to miss Euro 2008. England coach Steve McClaren held a large red-and-blue umbrella on the sidelines and was mocked as the “Wally with the brolly,” and he was fired the next day.

WITH THE WHISTLE

Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey will referee his second straight World Cup semifinal match, after Argentina’s penalty-kick win over the Netherlands four years ago. Cakir worked Iran’s 1-0 win over Morocco and Argentina’s 2-1 win over Nigeria in the group stage this year, and he refereed Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Juventus in the 2015 Champions League final.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Centrefest brings feats of daring to Red Deer’s downtown

Fundraising was a tough slog, but it came together in the end

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Jones’ punt return TD rallies Riders to road victory over Ticats

Roughriders 31 Tiger-Cats 20 HAMILTON — Brandon Bridge kept Dave Watford on… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer’s Iron Buffalo rocks Westerner Days

Iron Buffalo opened for Helix and Lee Aaron Thursday at the ENMAX Centrium

Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

NEW YORK — Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook.… Continue reading

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month