Croatia to work on defending set-pieces: Modric

England dream of World Cup glory as Russian fans thank team

Croatia to work on defending set-pieces: Modric

This coming week will see the semi-final ties in the 2018 FIFA World Cup be played, with only European sides left at this stage of the competition.

That mattered little though for battling coach Stanislav Cherchesov who assembled a team that defied all forecasts and made the home nation proud.

Croatia ended Russia's surprising World Cup run with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

The tournament has now entered the penultimate stage, and it is now almost impossible to predict which team will prevail and which team will not.

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

"What I would like is to face the England from before, but now they are very strong and we have to respect them".

"From the first second I put together this team, I knew where it was heading".

"But we believe in our strengths too".

Russian Federation is holding its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show on June 14. "They are young and alive, an attacking team".

The 38-year-old holds the Russian record for most worldwide appearances with 127 and his last act on a football field was to convert a penalty in Saturday's shootout loss to Croatia.

They handed them possession and despite playing four times fewer passes than Spain's 1,137 over 120 minutes, they successfully shut them out of their box. Igor Akinfeev later blocked an attempt from Mateo Kovacic.

In the shootout, Mateo Kovacic missed his kick for Croatia, but two misses by Russia's Fedor Smolov and Fernandes handed The Blazers passage to the semis where England await.

Belgium held their final training session before the crunch semi-final at their Moscow Country Club base before making the journey to St Peterburg.

And a national superstore has thrown their support behind the England Football Team by pledging to close all of its stores in England early, if the team reach the World Cup finals.

The investment-banking giant changed its prediction after Belgium defeated Brazil in the quarter finals.

"I was concentrated throughout the match but after Rakitic's penalty, it came bursting out of me".

"But we've been a real team and we have got some excellent players, no doubt about that, but the collective strength has been massive". Sometimes I think these things are written - and the way this tournament has opened up for England is one of the reasons it feels like this is their time.

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