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Three reasons why Croatia deserves to win the Final

Three reasons why Croatia deserves to win the Final

Despite still reeling from Wednesday's semi-final defeat to Croatia, England's stars looked to raise spirits in training on Friday morning ahead of the third-place play-off against Belgium - with a unique quirk in that it is the second time in Russian Federation these sides will meet.

However, the biggest concern looking ahead to Sunday's game is bound to be fatigue, with Croatia having required extra-time for a third consecutive match, meaning they have played the equivalent of one match more than France.

Gifted a relatively soft draw by the early exit of a number of traditional World Cup superpowers, England reached the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 1996, when Southgate was part of the team.

In the final match of the group stage of the tournament, Belgium and England had both already secured their advancement to the knockout bracket, with only their rankings left to be determined.

Mario Mandzukic scored the victor in the 109th minute after Ivan Perisic had earlier cancelled out Kieran Trippier's free-kick opener.

Southgate certainly believes the World Cup campaign has created a foundation.

Across teams, there have been a number of players who have stolen the headlines for their displays and maybe rightly so but there have been many who put in superb shifts for the team. This shows character and is what makes me proud.




"People were talking... English journalists, pundits from television", Modric told ITV.

Dalic said he had allowed his players to celebrate the victory on Wednesday night and was consequently unaware of the extent of any injuries in his squad.

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".

"It is a very odd game because it's a fixture for two teams coming off the back of a disappointment, but the game is there and we need to play it", said the Chelsea man.

"For Croatian football and Croatia as a country, this is history being written", said Dalic.

"But we have our hearts, our pride and our players and that is what is really important to us".


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