Croatia become smallest nation to reach World Cup final since 1950

Sherman Parsons
July 16, 2018

Millions of people tuned in to watch England take on Croatia at the Luzkhniki Stadium - the first since England reached the semi-final stage of a World Cup since 1990.

Luka Modric has said the lack of respect shown to Croatia by English journalists and pundits was a motivating factor for Croatia's players in their World Cup semi-final victory. But once you're here and played as well as we did, you want to take those opportunities in life.

"The honest thing is it's not a game any team wants to play in", Southgate said ahead of the match against Belgium.

"We showed again that we were not exhausted - we dominated the game mentally and physically".

"For these players, many have come of age on an global stage and I couldn't be prouder with what they've done", Southgate added.

That's proved to be the case, although they have relied on large part on grit and determination to see them through the knockout stages, beating Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties before seeing off England in extra time. 'We will have some extra motivation because of that, for sure. To each and every @England fan, the support has been incredible and we can't thank you enough! We are in the final and that is the biggest success in Croatia history.

"There'll be a new benchmark and level of expectation", said Southgate.

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Tonight in the end we weren't quite there but the team will be stronger for that'.

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

"We've proved to ourselves and our country that's possible".

"They see a team that leaves everything on the pitch, which they have, and played with style".

"This is an fantastic achievement for us - it's a dream come true after such a long time".

"But I've said all along we're not flawless, we're not the finished article".

"Against the very best teams, we've not managed to get the wins". We have the chance to win a medal at the World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.

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