Too early to take positives for proud England boss Southgate

Tanya Simon
July 13, 2018

"The other one is that I know I have played well in the tournament".

Croatia take on England in the second semi-final of the World Cup.

Fans stationed behind the goal roared as a young boy wearing the Peresic name ran a scintillating line from nearly halfway to score in a packed away net.

Croatia's World Cup final opponents, France, are associated with the words "formidable" and "dramatic" as well as "lucky".

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.

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Both had already qualified for the round of 16 when Belgium beat England 1-0 in the last game of the group stage on Adnan Januzaj's curling shot in a game likened to a friendly thanks to 17 lineup changes. We weathered a lot of storms out there. It still took them eight years to win, but that's got to be our ambition.

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We had all got excited and dreamt that it would be us facing France in Sunday's final - but why shouldn't we dream?

Ultimately we were not good enough to win it, but we can accept that - as a team, they still far exceeded all of our expectations, and I would congratulate them for that.

"It was a tough game, a 50-50 game, I'm sure we'll look back at stuff we could have done better but we worked as hard as we could".

Dele Alli's model girlfriend Ruby Mae was there to support her nab while there was hugs all round for manager Gareth Southgate with his wife Alison and and teenage children Mia, 19, and Flynn, 15.

Croatia are hardly a team of no names, however, a fact that Dalic was quick to point out when asked if England had disrespected his team with their confidence before the semifinal.

Mario Mandzukic scored in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium giving the Balkan nation its first ever place in the finals in history, surprising even some fans with the result.

Meanwhile, 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.

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