Croatia ready for England in spite of extended matches

Lynette Rowe
July 10, 2018

Belgium has never been to the final of a World Cup, but that's exactly what they look poised to do as the highest-ranked team (No. 3 in the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings) left in the tournament.

"Clearly, we wanted to go even further but sadly today we could not", coach Stanislav Cherchesov said, addressing the crowd.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Dalic said: "We can not choose our opponents, hosts or otherwise".

"Russia played a very good game, particularly in the first half, they surprised us, they pressed us very high, we could not build up our play", Modric said.

The two building contractors from Cheltenham, western England, who drove all the way out to Russia in their Mercedes van last month, watched their team defeat Sweden in Saturday's quarter final in the Russian city of Samara. "We hope we have turned the situation for the better", the coach noted.

There's no way they couldn't be after ousting Denmark on penalties in the round of 16, then being forced to extra time again by host Russian Federation on Saturday night. Fourteen members of their squad are based in Europe's top five leagues - England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France - including Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic at Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic at Barcelona and Mario Mandzukic at Juventus.

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"According to reports, the president had flown to Russian Federation in economy class as she wanted to show the world that she's a football fan, just 'like anyone else".

Belgium dispatched Brazil to advance to the last four and the Red Devils will take on France, who edged past Uruguay, for a place in Sunday's final at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"No other team in the world has fans like we do". Vida stepped up once again for his country by converting a spot-kick in Croatia's second shootout win of the competition as the defender claimed that he had actually volunteered to take a penalty. "I felt really relieved", Dalic said.

Croatia are the second side to progress from a penalty shoot-out in consecutive knockout games in a World Cup after Argentina in 1990.

"I think we are just enjoying the journey, that's definitely helped us, everything we've done has been based on enjoyment", he added.

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