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Croatia defender Josip Pivaric celebrates up close after he and his teammates collapsed onto AFP photographer Yuri Cortez (R) celebrates with teammates after Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic (C) scored their second goal during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. In defeat, Southgate's side became the first team to lose a World Cup semifinal after leading at half-time.

"That enabled Croatia to dominate that midfield area and get their full-backs into play, they were creating 2-v-1s in wide areas". Croatia meanwhile has played one more match when you combine the three extra time matches (90 minutes), has a day less of rest and couldn't beat Denmark, Russia or England in regulation, all of which are factors.

The Croatians went into Russian Federation as the 20th-ranked team in the world, but in particular their midfield talents of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic meant they were fancied by many as dark horses for a decent run.

"It's massive that we had a good tournament and restored pride in the nation". What more could we ask for?

"We blew our chances", 17-year-old Josh Ogunde said after watching the 2-1 semifinal defeat with friends near Trafalgar Square in central London as the disappointed crowds streamed home.

"Two years ago, I remember what happened two years ago", Deschamps said, via Reuters.

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"Every time we wear the shirt we want to play well and win".

That's proved to be the case, although they have relied on large part on grit and determination to see them through the knockout stages, beating Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties before seeing off England in extra time.

"We've shown we can do well in these tournaments and the aim is now not to wait another 20-odd years to get to another big semi-final".

For a country with a population of only 4.2 million to reach the final of the 2018 World Cup is nothing short of remarkable.

Stephen Fry was among those to take to Twitter after the match, and his message reflected the thoughts of many.

Southgate's team of 23 has been revolutionary in the sense, that unlike the gold superstars of the past, this team is tied on a bond of brotherhood and the spectacle which they have presented in Russian Federation will make it easier for the next generation to follow them.


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