Hosts Russia disappointed but exit World Cup stage with pride

Arnold Nichols
July 11, 2018

England secured their first semi-final place in the tournament for 28 years after seeing off Sweden 2-0 on Saturday, with only Croatia standing in their way of reaching the final following their dramatic penalty shootout victory against hosts Russian Federation.

England's opponents in the World Cup semi final on Wednesday will be Croatia after a dramatic penalty shootout in which nerves and exhaustion played a huge part.

Modric instead signed for his local club, Zadar, with whom he sought solace as the war continued to rage about them, and as it finally began to ease he was picked up by Dinamo Zagreb's youth programme at the age of 16 in 2002.

The hosts, the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup this year, were second in their group and beat former champions Spain in the last-16 round.

"To be able to manage the team to this point, having played in a semi-final as well, is really, really special".

"How far can we go?" Following the loss, Putin invited the Russian players and coach to discuss the World Cup with him and called them heroes, Peskov said.

Croatia lost 2-1 on that occasion, but eventually finished third.

Russian Federation forward Artyom Dzyuba talked often of "the fairy tale", and the fans responded with a giant banner for the Spain game urging them to "make the fairy tale come true".

The 2002 and 2006 tournaments were particularly frustrating because a win in the final group games would have advanced Croatia to the knockout round.

"This looks like a nation with a newfound sense of footballing confidence - and expectations for the future", said Challands.

The cliche that a World Cup is better when the hosts do well is overworked but it also rings true.

He said: "We have power left for England. It is up to us to take the game to them and play our game".

"This makes us extremely proud that after 20 years we've reached the semis of the World Cup", the 32-year-old Modric added.

"We saw how good they are from dead balls so will have to focus more on defending set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece today, so have to improve that element of our game".

"But of course you get an accumulation of fatigue through a tournament, that's why we took the decision we did against Belgium more than anything".

"No other team in the world has fans like we do".

"As soon as I found out there was going to be a reception with the Sbornaya, I dropped everything and drove with my husband to Moscow", said Anastasiya, a fan from Tver who travelled for over three hours to reach the capital.

"I'm glad that I scored goals but the most important thing is to help the team".

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