Croatia celebrates first World Cup final berth

Jose Verdugo
Julio 12, 2018

Croatian players competed for Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1990 and the modern Croatian FA was not recognised by Federation Internationale de Football Association and UEFA until 1993.

The encounter in Moscow headed to extra time but Mario Mandzukic's 109th minute strike ended England's hopes of a first World Cup final since 1966.

Stores have pushed waistcoat sales as England advanced to a World Cup semifinal clash against Croatia in Moscow tomorrow morning, with people taken by Southgate's style of wearing a vest without his suit jacket, AP reports.

But neither side are in a mood for nostalgia or using the past as motivation.

"Coach Zlatko Dalić has done a wonderful job, all the players are united and they're playing well".

"What more could we ask for?" We know there is more to come from this England team'. Not what's happened in the past.

"The way we've been received here has been fantastic", Southgate said at a pre-match press conference at Luzhniki Stadium.

Neither team came to Russian Federation being heralded as favourites but they have produced performances throughout the competition which have shown they were underestimated by the pundits.

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Croatia had twice needed penalties to get to this stage, first in the round of 16, where they beat Denmark, then in the quarterfinals, where they beat hosts Russian Federation, two shootouts that made goalkeeper Danijel Subašić a hero.

Former national goalkeeper Peter Shilton said the missed first-half chances were "costly" but told fans to remember how far the team had come.

Croatia were a goal down against Denmark in the last-16 as well as against Russian Federation in the quarter-finals, before equalising and forcing extra time and penalty shootouts to advance.

"We have a good opportunity to give them something back for 20 years ago when they reached the final", Croatia defender Dejan Lovren said. "Realistically, I don't think any of us did".

NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman says today's match is being played against a political backdrop.

Amid a couple of puns, there were plenty of kind words for Southgate in particular, as well as for the impact England's exploits had at home.

"I've got the utmost respect for him - he's been banging goals in for Spurs for several seasons - but he's not alone, his team-mates play at top clubs, so it will be hard".

"Semi-finals, they've done what they had to do, they took us to the semi-finals".

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