Belgium favored in third-place match over England

Belgium favored in third-place match over England

Loud cheers rang out after each goal, fans waved the red and white national flag, and after the final whistle Croatian TV showed wild celebrations breaking out in towns and cities. He missed the knockout stages as he had to rush back to his then Croatian club Hajduk Split for pre-season training. The prospect of Kylian Mbappe running at a tired Croatian defence is a frightening one, and punters should not be totally surprised if France run away with this.

Croatia, a country of about 4 million people, came to a standstill as fans watched the game on screens in squares and cafes.

The Three Lions took the lead on a terrific free kick by Kieran Trippier in the 5th minute.

England was a bundle of nerves and was lucky to get to 90 minutes with the score still level at 1-1. In extra time, nobody wanted to be substituted.

'I am so proud to work for this team and this manager'.

Dalic said he had allowed his players to celebrate the victory on Wednesday night and was consequently unaware of the extent of any injuries in his squad. "Going to extra time might be a problem along with the fact France have an extra day to recover, but there will be no excuses". They've made so many breakthroughs throughout the tournament.

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England lost much of their first-half momentum after the break. 'We were the better team in the second half and in extra time. Croatia needed spot kicks to advance against Denmark in the last 16 and against Russian Federation in the quarter-finals.

While Croatia deserve vast credit for beating England, the truth is the Three Lions could have been out of sight by half-time and Croatia's vulnerability at the back could easily be exploited by this explosive French side.

Every time a major tournament comes around, a familiar refrain is heard in the region: "If only Yugoslavia was one country, imagine the incredible team we could have".

Lack of respect from England: "You always have to respect other teams and to keep your feet on the ground". "They underestimated Croatia tonight and that was a huge mistake". To everyone who believed this time was different. They have given us so much to shout about.

England had a great opportunity and it hurts to come so close to our first World Cup final since 1966, but I think you have to focus on all the positives that we can take from this campaign.

And Pickford knows if he misses out in the third place play-off it could blow his chances.

"But we have our hearts, our pride and our players and that is what is really important to us".

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