Wednesday, 24 April, 2019

Russia can keep on partying after fine #WorldCup run

ASSOCIATED PRESS           England’s Harry Maguire celebrates his team’s win over Sweden today ASSOCIATED PRESS England’s Harry Maguire celebrates his team’s win over Sweden today
Cary Erickson | 10 July, 2018, 10:01

Russian Federation were eliminated from this summer's tournament after losing on penalties to Croatia in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

After returning from their Friday quarterfinals in Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, respectively, France and Belgium worked out at their Moscow-area training bases Sunday before heading to St. Petersburg for their Tuesday night semifinal.

'Of course there is some power left for the English, ' he told a post-match press conference.

But their performances gave Russian players instant national hero's status and the country the right to be proud of a run no one had expected less than a month ago.

"Our last three games were different because we played teams with a defensive approach", he said. We're giving our all. "We saw how good they are from dead balls so we will have to focus more on defending set pieces".

Dalic said: "That was a great success for Croatia as a nation".

He was reluctant to identify a favourite for the tie, though, highlighting how many of those fancied to win the competition before it began such as Brazil, Germany and Spain have already been ousted. "We don't want to stop".

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The overachieving hosts, the lowest ranked nation in the tournament, were trying to make it to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since the Soviet Union team finished fourth at the 1966 tournament in England.

On a scorching Saturday that saw England advance further in the World Cup than the home of the handsome game has since 1990 and Croatia take down a dynamo, Russian Federation was on seemingly everyone's lips yesterday - and we don't mean Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation of Donald Trump and the adjoining array of Congressional committees. Now that the home team is finally out, will its fans - who have filled most of the seats throughout the tournament - pick a favorite from the semifinalists, or go back to treating soccer with a shrug?

The national team has never been greeted so warmly, not even after their stunning performance at UEFA EURO 2008, when they reached the semi-final.

But there have been four shootouts in Russian Federation so far, with the team going second winning every single time.

'We took the hard route, we were unlucky in previous major tournaments, particularly at Euros, but now we are collecting those debts at the World Cup this year.

Davor Suker, president of the Croatian Football Federation and a key part of the Croatia team that reached the 1998 semi-finals, played down suggestions the team were too dependent on Modric but insisted the player can easily handle the weight of responsibility.

He added that he would have retired as professional footballer earlier if not for the World Cup and now plans to become a coach.