Dejected England, Belgium aim to leave World Cup on a high
Dejected England, Belgium aim to leave World Cup on a high
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14 July, 2018, 05:04
Elements of the English media had talked up how exhausted Croatia might be coming into the game after being taken to extra time and penalties in each of the previous two rounds. We will push them to play our game.
"None of us knows if that's as good as it gets", he said, after England were beaten 2-1 by Croatia in extra-time on Wednesday.
In Moscow, Croatia fans said they were taken aback by their side's win. I'm sure that we'll recover and we'll be fine - this is the World Cup final and there are no excuses.
They will end their tournament with a third/fourth place play-off against Belgium in St. Petersburg on Saturday. The reason for us being here was to achieve that big goal.
"To have been able to make a difference is something that will live with us all forever, so we can tell the way that the country has united behind football and that's maybe more important than the performance in some respects".
"I think all of us deserve this. We'd like to redress having lost to Belgium once before already, too".
England manager Gareth Southgate says the Three Lions' 2-1 World Cup semifinal loss to Croatia will stay with him forever, but his side are determined to earn a medal in Russian Federation as consolation.
Pre-tournament preparation was spot on: "We chose to play friendlies against teams who would be at the World Cup and that was a great lesson for us". If we make the final, that's different. For all of the players and all of the staff, we got back to St Petersburg at 6.30am after the game, so emotionally it has been a very hard few days.
"Olivier has done a lot for the team", Matuidi said.
"We want to be in semi-finals, finals and we've shown to ourselves that can happen". We have the chance to win a medal at the World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.
Harry Kane looks set to claim the Golden Boot as the World Cup's leading scorer, but the Tottenham star rarely looked like adding to his six goals against Croatia.
"We felt the best way to be successful in this tournament was to play that system".
"And I think we need to take full credit for that because we've changed that".
In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic they have the midfield engines of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, while the scorer of their victor against the Three Lions, Mario Mandzukic, won the Champions League with Bayern Munich and now plays for Juventus.
Asked how far he thought the still young England team could progress in the next World Cup, he said: "This far, if not the final". In the previous four World Cups: Croatia failed to qualify in 2010 and was ousted in the group stage the other three occasions.
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Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium in all competitions (17 goals, 3 assists). The young English squad deviates from their traditional approach of putting only high profile players in the national team.
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England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was notably called into action early in the second half when he saved Marcus Berg's header. The Americans seem to be going off the boil with their World Cup fever, with England and Croatia demoted to the sidebar.
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A look at what's ahead in the World Cup
Real Madrid midfielder Modric said: "Maybe it is written in the stars that we had to go through the extra drama". After the final whistle he celebrated wildly, shouting and pumping his fist in front of the travelling support.
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