Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Jaded Croatia Look to Master Modric to Carry Them Through Against England

Ghanaians react to Russia's shootout defeat to Croatia Russia's Ignashevich retires after WCup exit
| 10 July, 2018, 14:05

Belgium's so-called golden generation has finally turned potential into concrete results by reaching the last four of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has said his side have already "managed to stop Messi" and so can cope with England's Harry Kane in Wednesday's semi-final.

England are not the only team searching for a World Cup omen, heralding the end of a curse and daring to believe in the lightweight side of the draw.

OPENING SALVO Russia had delivered the ideal opening salvo, firing five goals past the Saudis in the World Cup opening match that instantly gave the home crowd a reason to turn their attention to football.

Now it all comes down to the do-or-die clash with Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in only its third-ever World Cup semi-final, following a win in 1966 en route to winning its only title, and a loss to West Germany in 1990. "We said we want to write our own history and hopefully we can go one step further and get to the final".

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin was taken in by the host nation's surprising run, at least according to Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov.

"In my personal opinion, I think this is the best he's played for the Croatian national team".


Southgate said it vindicated his decision to play a weakened team in the final group game against Belgium.

"We were undermanned in midfield", said Dalic.

France's Aujourd'hui en France newspaper prepared a full-page spread featuring the two popular comic characters and said it was more than a match. "We played at club level as well", says striker Mario Mandzukic, who played with Modric at Dinamo Zagreb a decade ago before the latter joined Tottenham Hotspur.

The duel had ended 1-1 after regular time and 2-2 after extra time before Croatia won the penalty shootout 4-3.

World Cup fever is sweeping the nation - and Danny McLaughlin has found himself at the centre of attention thanks to his awesome resemblance to star player Harry Kane. 'They gave everything to beat Spain and they deserved to go through.

"We've worked hard on getting to know each other off the pitch and creating that togetherness and understanding with each other", added Stones.

There is little prospect that they would have come this far without Modric, who as a boy was forced to flee his village home after his grandfather was killed by Serb forces in the Croatian independence war.

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