Gareth Southgate: England will play Belgium with 'huge pride'

Annette Crawford
July 12, 2018

Despite the disappointment of Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat to Croatia, England can look back on a positive campaign which saw the team reach their first semi-final in 28 years.

"Of course it is going to be a really hard task over the next 24 hours to assess everybody and to get everybody mentally back to where we want them for a game like that".

England, meanwhile, "blew our chances", said 17-year-old Josh Ogunde after watching the 2-1 semi-final defeat with friends near Trafalgar Square in central London as the disappointed crowds streamed home.

The fact remains, though, that on Sunday they will play the biggest match of their lives against a France side bursting with youth and vigour that has had a day more rest and played the equivalent of a match fewer over the knockout rounds.

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

In capital Zagreb, more than 10,000 people gathered in the central square to watch the match despite rain.

With such a modest population, they are the smallest country to get to a World Cup final since Uruguay back in 1950, and in the modern game it is a staggering achievement.


That's why beating Colombia in the last 16 knockout match was awesome.

"We might live in a time where sometimes it's easier to be negative than positive, or to divide than to unite, but England: let's keep this unity alive".

"Nobody wanted to give in when I was preparing the first eleven, nobody wanted to say I was not ready in extra time, no one wanted to be subbed and this shows character and what makes me proud". We did not underestimate them. We respected them because we analysed them.

The Croats needed extra-time and penalties for the second successive knockout game, beating Russian Federation last time, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them tire at some point in this game. We closed down [John] Stones and [Jordan] Henderson; we nullified them.

The Croatian Football Federation issued a press release where they announced that they have invited the 1998 team to Sunday's final. Their route to the final in Russian Federation has included a 3-0 win against Argentina in the groups, with Croatia finishing top of the group.

"They played their best, it obviously wasn't to be".

The French have relied on the attacking brilliance of 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé while Croatia have depended on Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic to spearhead their attack.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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