Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Lovren’s Croatia set up World Cup semi-final with England

Russia players celebrate Russia have defied all expectations Credit reuters
Cassandra Castillo | 08 July, 2018, 16:27

"We know that we're facing England for a place in the final and now we want to win the trophy".

FRANCE have looked confident in their abilities since they arrived in Russian Federation, and while they haven't been as exciting as Belgium have, that shouldn't make you think any less of them.

Kylian Mbappe and co will fancy having fun with Belgium's defence.

"I'm a bit disappointed, but we demonstrated that fans can be proud of our team because we played good football".

France should finally make their neighbours pay for their weakest link. Croatia's population is just over four million and, of the 32 countries at the 2018 World Cup, only Panama, Uruguay and Iceland are home to fewer people.

With an attacking force featuring the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, the Belgians are fearsome in the attacking third.

Russia's thrilling World Cup run ended with defeat against Croatia in Sochi on Saturday, but the tournament's lowest-ranked nation performed way beyond the expectations of pundits and even their own fans.

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They started off well by winning the first two group stage games to secure their spot in the round-of-16 before losing 1-0 to Belgium in their last group stage clash. They've had eight different scorers already in this tournament, which is their best ever tally.

Russian female soccer fans have worn the headdress, which resembles a tiara, with team jerseys and traditional costume at matches and fan zones to show their allegiance.

While losing in the World Cup semifinal can never be considered a disappointment, England may never have a better chance to return to the World Cup final and lift the trophy for a second time.

Croatia will meet England in the second semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday.

England and Tottenham's Harry Kane will go up against Croatia and Liverpool's Dejan Lovren.

Croatia may be blessed with the talents of Luka Modric - arguably the finest midfielder in the world - and Ivan Rakitic, but is there any reason for England to be genuinely fearful?

After joining Federation Internationale de Football Association in 1992 and then UEFA in 1993 following the break up of Yugoslavia, Croatia made an instant impact at their first World Cup finals when they reached the 1998 semi-finals. Mandzukic and Kramaric up front, Ante Rebic and Perisic out wide and Rakitic and Modric in the middle of the park. Modric, Rakitic and co will now look to get past familiar foes England, and a first final is very much in sight.

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