French star Pogba looks to be World Cup hero

13 July, 2018, 10:45 | Author: Greg Lawrence
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"It was a very hard game, we all know what was at stake and how important a semi-final is for a small country like Croatia", said Perisic.

Expectations were low heading into the tournament, but that did not make it any easier to accept defeat by Croatia, who fought back with goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic after Kieran Trippier's free kick had given England an early lead. There are two teams in the final, a Cup and there are 90 minutes more.

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who made the most of his first-choice status for Gareth Southgate at the World Cup, said the team was obviously disappointed with the result but added that supporters should expect more from this young squad in the future.

"This is fantastic. Two players played with half a leg, but it didn't show".

Defender Dejan Lovren dismissed suggestions that the team would be exhausted after extra time and two penalty shootouts in their last two match matches. "We need all the players but they must all be fit on the pitch. I'd like to join and send over some gloves for you guys as well!"

Mourinho's former managerial rival Arsene Wenger seemed to take a similar view, praising the midfield general for keeping things simple. "We will go into this final to win it, as we have still not gotten over the [Euro] final". They want to win.

"This team is nowhere near the level they´re going to be capable of, partly because of their age and partly because over the next few years, with us and with their clubs, they´re going to have more and more big-match experiences".

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Uruguay won all three of their group matches, and are the only team yet to concede a goal at the tournament. But the header from the Manchester City midfielder was off-target.

"We were the better team in all aspects of the game", said Dalic.

France, meanwhile, were "good on the basics of the games", he said.

Saturday's match is sure to feel like an unnecessary exertion to some, but it offers the chance to secure England's second-best World Cup finish as Sir Bobby Robson's semi-finalists lost their third-place play-off in 1990.

Kylian Mbappe (left) scored twice as France knocked Argentina out of the World Cup in Kazan.

Dejan Lovren, a man who will be crucial to Croatia's enjoyment of the clash at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, was sat next to Dalic on Tuesday and he exuded the same calm confidence as his coach.

"Pogba was mature. He played the game with great maturity. But we have our hearts, our pride and our players and that is what is really important to us".

After three successful years in the south of France with Marseille, the French Football Federation assigned Deschamps to rebuild a new generation for France.

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