Why Croatian president 'can't wait' for World Cup final

Southgate feels the England team have reconnected with fans

Those dreams should be regarded as success.

Since my last diary entry we've survived the 16-hour train to Samara ahead of England's quarter-final against Sweden but before that we had a memorable six-hour taxi journey to Kazan.

Croatia needed extra-time and penalties to beat both Denmark and Russian Federation, while Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor gave them victory over England in the semi-final.

"That's the biggest thing so far to come out of it and we just want to continue to do that and do everybody proud".

"If you look at all of our attacking patterns and the way that our front four have combined and played, he's been instrumental in that, so I think he's a player that's really appreciated by the team". They are not Spain, Germany or Argentina, but then again Spain, Germany and Argentina were already at home. That should not be taken for granted, either.

'Thank you for trying your best, we love you England!'

And it was often fun! I'm a lot more rational now.

Croatia started the World Cup at 33/1 outsiders.

In the end it was not enough, and it was the holes in the gameplan that did it for them.

He said: "If we want to play for England we have to deal with expectation". Players attributed the performance for the national team with a sense of satisfaction.

When Dalic took over past year, he thrust Luka Modric into the No. 10 role, to try to give the team more penetration, and it worked.

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And it's also true that Southgate did not help himself in that regard.

The 51-year-old had stints in charge of Saudi Arabian teams Al Faisaly and Al Hilal, and Al Ain from the UAE - clubs relatively unknown to those more familiar with top European leagues.

The defeat was not unwarranted, but it was certainly painful.

"But we have high motivation to perform and finish with a medal at a World Cup, which only one England team have done".

Everyone will go their separate ways after flying back to Birmingham Airport, the Football Association having decided against a parade, and the manager acknowledged it represented the last stand for this most unified of squads.

Ivan Perisic, who scored and set up Mario Mandzukic's victor in the semi-final win over England, was among five Croatian players to miss training on Friday.

It will not be this easy for England next time but it need not be impossible.

"Our qualification for the World Cup was in doubt, and in the most important game, the first game (against Ukraine in Kiev), he talked us up to give us self-belief and self-confidence".

"He brought us calmness, he perked us up".

A team boasting the talents of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic were struggling even to qualify for the World Cup before his appointment in October a year ago.

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