Four things we learned from the World Cup quarter-finals

Jul 11, 2018, 04:02
Four things we learned from the World Cup quarter-finals

The last time Russian Federation did so well at a major tournament was when it reached the semifinals of the 2008 European Championship.

Ivan Rakitic scored the winning spot-kick in Sochi at the end of a draining and rollercoaster last-eight clash that finished 2-2 after extra time.

In the streets around Red Square, fans from Peru, Mexico and Argentina were a vibrant presence from days before the World Cup started.

"So to be here, to be a part of it, leading this team out, I'm so proud". "We played for you with your heart and soul, these guys have made history".

"We tried. I think the whole team gave 100 percent". Known for his man-management skills, Blazevic inspired Croatia to the knockout stages of Euro 96, where they were beaten by eventual winners Germany, before going even further two years later.

For a country like Croatia, with a population of little over four million, to be in the semi-finals of the World Cup is a remarkable achievement. "It is up to us to take the game to them and play our game". The offence carries a penalty of up to five years in jail. Croatia lost to eventual champion France in the semifinals, but rebounded to beat the Netherlands and finish third.

"Of course there's power left for the English", Dalic said.

Three years later Modric had sufficiently impressed to earn a 10-year contract with the club, proceeding to play an increasingly integral role in three consecutive league titles, until the clamour for his visionary and patient style of play became headline news.

'We took a hard route. Ranked 70th in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings released just before the start of the tournament and therefore the worst team, on paper, many expected Russia to crash out at the first time of asking.

The biggest question mark now surrounds the fitness of a team who have gone the full distance in their last two matches and had several players struggling with injuries against Russian Federation.

They had also needed spot kicks to get past a dogged Denmark in the last 16, but Modric insisted they would not be exhausted for the last-four clash against England.

Russian Federation forward Artyom Dzyuba talked often of "the fairy tale", and the fans responded with a giant banner for the Spain game urging them to "make the fairy tale come true".

Despite increasing tensions with the West, Putin has presided over a superbly organised, relaxed and colourful tournament though this does not fool human rights groups who have consistently cautioned he is using the tournament to gloss over his authoritarian rule.

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