England’s Jordan Henderson believes the identity installed by Gareth Southgate has played a huge part in their run to the World Cup semi-final.
As England prepare for their first appearance in the last four of a World Cup since 1990, Henderson hailed the current side as “the most together England team” he had ever been involved in.
“The biggest thing the gaffer’s brought in is identity,” Henderson said at the final pre-match press conference.
“We had discussions early on and we were on the same page early on. The manager has implemented brilliantly with training sessions on and off the pitch, getting to know each other.
“This is the most together England team I’ve been involved with and we get rewards for that being in the semi-final of the World Cup looking to get to the final.”
Confidence is high in the England camp after a comfortable 2-0 win over Sweden in the quarter-finals. Croatia have won back-to-back penalty shootouts to reach this stage of the competition.
England’s progress could depend on their ability to contain key dangerman Luka Modric.
Having faced Modric in the Champions League final for Liverpool, Henderson is under no illusion of how hard a task that will be.
“I can’t tell you our plan but the players mentioned are fantastic players.
“I’ve played against Madrid and he’s (Modric) world class, one of the best I’ve played against. They’ve got a lot of players from different areas, we are looking to stop them tomorrow night.”
One key match-up will be how Croatia defender Dejan Lovren handles the tournament’s top scorer, Harry Kane.
Lovren had a torrid time when the two faced each other in the Premier League last season and was hauled after just 30 minutes in the game at Wembley back in October.
Despite a fair amount of criticism, Liverpool team-mate Henderson rates him amongst the best.
“I speak to the forwards and tell them what I think but Dejan is a fantastic defender despite the criticism, especially the last six months.
“He has everything a centre back needs and is a real leader as well. I’m so pleased for him as he’s a great person and character. I’m pleased he’s in a semi-final of a World Cup but I hope his journey ends tomorrow.”