Sports

Nutmegging Modric, snubbed by Welbeck: Dele Alli reflects on path to Moscow

Nutmegging Modric, snubbed by Welbeck: Dele Alli reflects on path to Moscow

Eric Dier heaped praise on Croatia duo Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, warning that England must contain them if they are to book a first World Cup final spot in 52 years.

Journalists packed into a hopelessly overcrowded room to hear Mandzukic insist all players were raring to go despite the strenuous past two games and that the pressure had now even eased.

The coach, however, will have to wait and see if defender Sime Vrsaljko, who played in four of their five games, will be fit for the match after picking up a knee injury.

"But when it happens like that you have to make sure you are still benefiting the team and helping them as much as you can, off the ball".

The political turmoil at home for England is covered in detail elsewhere on the site, and raises a tantalising prospect: if the government falls by Sunday, the fact that England only ever wins the World Cup under Labour may remain true.

France and Belgium are two attractive, entertaining sides with big names lining up on both ends of the field.

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This will be England's third appearance at the semi-final stage of the World Cup and their first in 28 years. Their round-of-16 clash with Argentina was one of the games of the tournament as a brace from Mbappe and further strikes from Griezmann and Benjamin Pavard saw them prevail 4-3.

Paul the psychic octopus famously predicted the outcome of several games at the 2010 World Cup.

"But they could be careful because it is a World Cup semi-final". Les Bleus also reached the final in 2006 but they were beaten 5-3 on penalties by Italy. "We played at club level as well", said striker Mario Mandzukic, who played with Modric at Dinamo Zagreb a decade ago.

Taking advantage of extra match tickets released by organizers Federation Internationale de Football Association and additional seats provided on Moscow-bound flights from Britain, they converged on London's Heathrow airport with hope in their hearts.

In retrospect, we should have seen England's victory coming. "Until last night, when all the pain was removed and when we finally experienced a revival of 1998", the Sportski Novosti newspaper said after that match.

"You know, we have always shown we can do well against the big nations", said Bilic.


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