Croatian Players Break into Song on Team Bus

How Diego Simeone could give England injury boost for World Cup semi-final

Croatia advanced to its first World Cup final with a 2-1 extra-time win over England on Wednesday night. Except somehow, the Croats took control against their youthful foes and kept getting stronger, tying it with an inspired volley from Ivan Perisic and sucker-punching the English with a sudden strike from Mario Mandzukic in the second period of extra time. They prevailed in penalty shootouts following 120 minutes against Denmark in the round of 16 and Russian Federation in the quarterfinals.

Deschamps, who also led France to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, has not always enjoyed universal praise for his work with France but Lloris believes the man who wore the armband he now calls his own with distinction has found the ideal tactics for the knockout rounds of this competition.

Samuel Umtiti headed in the only goal in a 1-0 semi-final win over Belgium in St Petersburg yesterday morning (Singapore time), consigning the Red Devils' "golden generation" to another bitter defeat. "I just feel like we could have done a lot of better".

He added: "France are top-drawer". We are facing another daunting task but we are ready for it. I'm sure everybody will be looking forward to it. "I have huge respect for France".

No more so than Tuesday as they edged Belgium in the semifinal to put themselves within one game of a second World Cup win, 20 years after their first.

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"We might have the chance for the revenge in the finals with the French", Plenkovic said.

France have improved as the tournament has progressed and go into the game as slight favourites.

"There's no out and out stars and everybody just looks at them as young lads, making their way out, they've not got above their station".

"The older players all played their role as leaders and the youngsters brought their energy". In extra-time nobody wanted to be substituted. I have to tip my hat to our medical staff and doctors.

Belgium fans filed quietly out of the arena, while back home they drowned their sorrows in beer after their dreams of a first World Cup final were shattered by their bigger French neighbours. But nobody wanted to be subbed and they didn't give in. "That makes me proud".

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