Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Southgate: England to make as few changes as possible for play-off

Southgate: England to make as few changes as possible for play-off

Croatia were the second team to book their place in Sunday's final in Moscow after beating England 2-1 in extra-time last night.

Croatia, meanwhile, have had a grueling path to the final, with all of their past three matches - against Denmark, Russia and England - going to extra time.

There are also no public celebrations planned despite the Three Lions' impressive achievements in Russian Federation, which could yet see them become the most successful team since the 1966 champions.

"Maybe England or the English media did not show enough respect to the Croatian national team, which we deserved, especially when you look at the clubs our players play for".

England's World Cup squad look set to win a Downing Street reception in their honour when they return from Russian Federation.

"I am feeling 100 per cent that we will win that is my hope", said Walter Brasic.

England must quickly pick up the pieces ahead of a tricky third-place match against Belgium, who ran through favourites Brazil in the quarterfinals before being stopped in their tracks by France in the semis. We are extremely proud of our players, this is one of the greatest achievements in the history of Croatian sport. "They did an bad lot better than I ever did, or we ever did", he added. "We wanted to make the final and make our fans happy", added Dalic, as his side now prepare to take on France on Sunday.

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"Over the last eight months the improvement has been dramatic but we've had six matches playing this system before this tournament and and we felt it was the best way to be successful".

Russian Federation qualified automatically for the World Cup finals as the host country and entered the tournament as the lowest-ranked team.

England manager Gareth Southgate says the Three Lions' 2-1 World Cup semifinal loss to Croatia will stay with him forever, but his side are determined to earn a medal in Russian Federation as consolation. Deflated England and Belgium will nonetheless want to end their FIFA World Cup campaign somewhat on a high on Saturday. We'll be well prepared because this is a one in a lifetime opportunity. We've brought a lot of pride but we want to finish the tournament well.

"It would be nice to see it now", one England fan said.

"He didn't. He wanted to do what was right for the team, so it would be even more powerful for him if he wins the Golden Boot having made that sacrifice, in my opinion".

"He has created a team in his own image and I think that's important", Matuidi told a press conference on Friday.

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