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The match on Sunday will be the first time Croatia plays in the tournament's final, and comes after it beat out England earlier this week.

"The Fiery Ones are in the final, the nation is in a trance - one more step to the title!" said the Jutarnji List, using the team's nickname.

Now Suker is the much-criticised president of the Croatian Football Federation. "These are major competitions", Dalic said. That led European football's governing body to deduct a point from Croatia, ordered to play two additional games without fans and fined €100,000 (NZ$172,000). In extra-time nobody wanted to be substituted. I'm sure that we'll recover and we'll be fine - this is the World Cup final and there are no excuses.

For England, the emotions are mixed - pride at reaching the last four is tempered by disappointment at letting a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.

There, he will line up alongside Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti, with Ousmane Dembele also in the squad, whilst midfielder Ivan Rakitic is likely to retain his position in the Croatian starting XI.


In London, an initial wave of elation turned to heartbreak as 30,000 beer-soaked fans in Hyde Park watched their team come up short.

"Our players and the (Serbian) federation could maybe ask the Croats to give us football lessons", someone else commented. 'We want to finish a great tournament on a high, ' he said.

"England progressed from a group stage exit in 2014 to a semi-final defeat in extra-time four years later". "But we have overcome so much adversity in this World Cup that it would be hard to bet against Croatia".

"I know everything about Croatia, I have lived the country intensely in all my life, since its history on all the sports of the country". But there have been no trophies since current coach Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup as captain on July 12, 1998 - 5 months, 8 days before star striker Kylian Mbappe was born.

Belgium defender Thomas Meunier says his side are better than England, who they will face in a World Cup consolation game on Saturday, and believes finishing third in Russian Federation is the minimum expected of Roberto Martinez's team.


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