Dejan Lovren Discusses Harry Kane, England Ahead of Croatia World Cup Semi-FinalJuly 10, 2018
Liverpool and Croatia centre-back Dejan Lovren has said he's looking forward to facing Tottenham Hotspur and England star Harry Kane when the two nations meet in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Per the Mirror's David McDonnell, the defender is well aware of the danger Kane and his team-mates present for Croatia's World Cup bid, but there is no fear in their ranks:
"He's one of the best strikers in the Premier League. He deserves every credit he gets. In the last few seasons he's always scored more than 25 goals and he's one of the best strikers in the world.
"But I like to challenge these strikers and to show to everyone that I'm one of the best defenders.
"We're not worried, no. We respect them, of course, and I think they respect us.
"It's a game between two great teams and it will be a big challenge to see who is better."
Lovren also said Croatia are the underdogs going into the match, and the penalty-shootout win over Russia in the quarter-finals gave his team an extra boost of confidence.
As noted by McDonnell, Lovren had limited success against Kane in the Premier League last season. There was the disastrous 4-1 meeting at Wembley in which he was substituted before the end of the first half, having given up two goals already, and Kane also got on the scoresheet in the rematch at Anfield.
The Croats are well aware of the threat Kane presents, but they are confident they can stop him:
Their bid to slow down the 24-year-old took a blow when it became clear Atletico Madrid full-back Sime Vrsaljko would miss out on the match due to injury, per MailOnline Sport. Vedran Corluka is expected to replace him, and the 32-year-old will likely have his hands full due to his lack of pace.
Kane didn't have his best outing in England's 2-0 win over Sweden, however, and scored five of his six World Cup goals against minnows Panama and Tunisia in the group stage. While he can strike at any time, he'll face arguably his toughest challenge yet on Wednesday.
Croatia haven't kept a clean sheet in their last three matches but did shut down the best attack they've faced so far, hitting Argentina hard in the group stages. The Albiceleste played right into their strengths―giving up space wide for counter-attacks―and like the Argentinians, England could have all kinds of trouble trying to mark Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic.
If the Three Lions' full-backs are forced to track back more than usual to keep up with those two, it will be that much easier for Lovren and Co. to deal with Kane, with fewer crosses coming into the box.
They can't afford to lose focus for even a second, however, as Kane will punish any mistake―something Lovren knows all too well.