Modric would deserve Golden Ball - Mandzukic

Andreas Granqvist

Coach Steve McClaren's tactics floundered as he clutched an umbrella in pouring rain on the sidelines at Wembley, and he was dubbed "the Wally with the brolly" following the loss that meant England failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

Croatia's wait to return to a World Cup semi-final has been shorter than England's 28-year absence.

"I left everything on the field and unfortunately we were unlucky", Russian Federation midfielder Roman Zobnin said.

"Yes, they are valuable, but I do not think about them, I'm just focused on bringing a medal home, so we will see".

"There are no favourites in this World Cup - every game is 50-50 and you have to fight it out".

In one of the most intense matches seen in this World Cup, Croatia edged past a gritty Russian Federation side on the last kick of the penalty shoot-out to make it to the tournament's semifinals, for the first time since 1998.

Meanwhile, Croatia's first World Cup semi-final for two decades has revived the memories of the country's football high point and raised hopes that Luka Modric's side can go one better than their legendary predecessors.

"We believe in our strengths", he said, as reported by BBC Sport. "What I would like, England from before, but now England is very strong".

Pickford, 24, has been one of the standout performers under Gareth Southgate during the Three Lions' run to the last four of a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

England has advanced further than was widely expected.

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Didier Deschamps tweaked his formation, effectively freeing up Kylian Mbappe on the right to run at the Argentine defence, and what followed was a wonderful display of attacking football that France won 4-3. "We've already accomplished something big, but we want to achieve more", he told reporters.

"Playing Brazil was a useful test for Croatia". The game will be played at an empty venue because Croatia is under a stadium ban from UEFA imposed back in 2015 when a swastika was painted on its field ahead of a game.

Can England's midfield compete with Croatia's quality?

But the spark seems to have gone in knockout stages and instead they have had to rely on more on resilience to get them through against less gifted opponents.

Now, finally, there is a team ready to join them in Croatian football's pantheon of heroes.

Yet they only led for the first time when Domagoj Vida's header found its way into the net through a crowd of players in the first half of extra time.

He added that he would have retired as professional footballer earlier if not for the World Cup and now plans to become a coach. "Of course, there is some power left for the English. We managed to stop Messi and [Christian] Eriksen so hopefully we can stop Kane".

Croatia midfielder and captain Luka Modric deserves to be in contention for the World Cup's Golden Ball award according to teammate Mario Mandzukic. But Croatia is also exhausted.

Despite his off-field troubles, Modric been an admirable leader for his team on the field, allowing them to match the great side of 1998 that reached the last four in France.

The teams then traded two scores each before Ivan Rakitic calmly converted the winning penalty.

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