When Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic took charge in 2017, he faced the dilemma of how best to fit Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic – two of the world’s best midfielders – into the same team effectively.
He has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation in the main, with Modric in the number 10 role.
Modric touched the ball 62 times and made only 42 passes in that match but in the quarter-final win against Russia he was deployed further back, and had 139 touches and made 102 passes.
That did however mean Rakitic was a less influential figure, but if the two dovetail on Wednesday, England are likely to be starved of the ball.
In addition to Modric and Rakitic, there is high-level experience throughout Croatia’s team, with many of the players at Europe’s elite clubs, including Liverpool, AC Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.
They have won nine Champions Leagues between them, compared to England’s one, and 11 of the 23-man squad have 40 caps or more.