Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Sport | By Victor Mcdonald

Archbishops console England after World Cup semi-final defeat

Archbishops console England after World Cup semi-final defeat

The last month has seen an epic ride for Gareth Southgate's young team at the four-yearly showpiece in Russian Federation this time, and pride in the footballers has well and truly been restored.

Croatia's win means they have become the 13th country and the tenth European nation to qualify for the World Cup final in the history of the tournament.

Speaking about the World Cup semi-final win after the match with former England player Glen Hoddle and ex-Wales and Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs, Bilic told explained Croatia's dominance in the midfield in the second half was the key.

Kieran Trippier's early free-kick put England on course for their first final since 1966, but Southgate's men will not be able to replicate Sir Alf Ramsey's heroes after Croatia staged a fightback to instead face France this weekend.

"We've set a benchmark for how we work", he said.

The Croatians went into Russian Federation as the 20th-ranked team in the world, but in particular their midfield talents of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic meant they were fancied by many as dark horses for a decent run.

"Many of our players have come of age on the global stage".

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"We have two days to prepare".

"We're here to improve every time we play", he continued".

They will meet a French team which eased past Belgium 1-0 in their semi-finals, and which boasts a population difference of around 62 million people more than Croatia. I don't think over the six or seven weeks we've been together now that they could have given any more'.

"I'm remarkably proud of the group of players", Southgate added.

Following the defeat, fans took to Twitter using #itsnotcominghome - but some remain hopeful this tournament will prove a springboard for future success. "There's a long way for us to go".

With three straight extra-time matches, Croatia has played the equivalent a full 90-minute match more than France has through six games in Russian Federation. For the majority of this tournament we have tried to be as positive as we can be and be courageous. "It's a big stepping stone from two years ago". In extra time, he leaped high to block John Stones' header, keeping Croatia in the game before Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal about 10 minutes later.

"The downside was it took them another eight years to win (the World Cup)".

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