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Croatia show nerves of steel to make semis

08 Juillet 2018

"Russia is the 70th best team in the world in the company of Cape Verde, Finland, Albania, Jamaica, and others". Croatia are also just the second team to advance through two back-to-back World Cup knockout games after trailing.

Prediction France have improved after a slow start in the group stages where they made hard work of Australia and Peru.

The game was hardly the most exciting 120 minutes of football, although it was still better than France vs Denmark, and the teams couldn't be separated in "normal" time.

With the Russian juggernaut rolling into the sleepiest of the World Cup venues, the resort city of Sochi, the head of state who lobbied so determinedly to host the tournament can reflect on a pleasing symmetry.

Belgium have impressed against everyone they have played, and even when they did slip, going two down to Japan in the second round, they had the goal power to fight back and triumph. The 51-year-old had spent the previous three years managing Abu Dhabi-based team Al-Ain.

It's their all round quality across the pitch and a tactical edge Roberto Martinez showed against Brazil that can see the Belgians through. "Perhaps the match was not the most handsome, but it will be remembered".

Do they have the mentality to beat France in a huge game? "Really", The Washington Post said, despite the fact that it is a very small country, Croatia is famous for their 15 fantastic players in the world's strongest clubs.

The polling company asked: "How much do you care about whether England progress or not in the football World Cup?"

The men in red exceeded the wildest expectations by coming within a penalty kick and a save against Croatia of making it into the semi-finals for the first time since 1966.

After extra time ended with the score level at 2-2, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was Croatia's penalty hero, denying Fedor Smolov before seeing Mario Fernandes fire wide.

From Brazil's squad in Russian Federation, 10 players will be 30 or younger by the tournament in Qatar in four years, including Neymar and Philippe Coutinho, who to many was the team's best player at this World Cup.

The two countries have a colourful history having met seven times since Croatia earned its independence in the early-1990s.

Ivan Perišić for Croatia had a near miss with 30 minutes to go with many celebrating before watching the ball rebound across the face of the goal. "We know that we're facing England for a place in the final and now we want to win the trophy".

Croatia show nerves of steel to make semis