Subasic plays through injury, comes up big again for Croatia

Bridge in Osijek lights up in Croatian colours

Bridge in Osijek lights up in Croatian colours

President Vladimir Putin has invited Cherchesov and his charges to the Kremlin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came down into the players' locker room after the loss.

"I think we are underdogs from Day 1 and it's good for us", Croatia defender Dejan Lovren said. "Croatia is a better team, but it would not be the first time the host, who before the championship was an outsider, go as far as, let's say, South Korea in 2002", says The Washington Post. The winners of those games will meet on July 15 to see who will be the 2018 World Cup champion - what will we do when it is all over? "We want to play our best game then". They have endured the emotional tugs of two penalty shootouts, somehow coming out on top on both occasions, the first team since 1990 to do so at a World Cup.

Wednesday's game in the Luzhniki Stadium promises to be a cracker and Rakitic gave a wonderful interview when asked about the match.

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. They also helped Fox hit new ratings highs for its coverage of this year's World Cup.

"In the second half and in extra time we dominated, we should have finished the job before penalties", he said, "but maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama".

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. "It's a semifinal. We will find extra motivation, extra everything, whatever is necessary".

There would certainly be profound appeal in one of the game's ultimate team players - and the antithesis of some of today's narcissistic footballers - winning the award but, for 90 minutes or however long it takes in Moscow, England fans will hope Modric has an off night.

However, Iniesta's presence couldn't see Spain into the last eight.

Belgium's so-called golden generation have fallen short in recent tournaments, failing to deliver at the last two European Championships and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but their destruction of the Brazilians in the quarterfinal was the performance of a team that believes it can become world champions. However, goals have been tougher to come by for the Blazers since, even though they saw off both Denmark and hosts Russian Federation on penalties to make it to the semi-finals.

Luka Modric said England "seem they are more like a team now" and coach Zlatko Dalic has pinpointed Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as the dangermen, despite insisting Croatia "don't fear England or anybody else".

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