Given that Croatia had never made a World Cup Final before, something tells me their national football strip may just be in demand after they defied the odds to shock England 2-1 AET. Croatia are in the World Cup Final and will face France who overcame Belgium 1-0.
England Fall in Dramatic Semi-Final Clash
England had overachieved this World Cup, according to most people. Nobody expected this England team to progress much past the Knockout stages, let alone make a World Cup Semi-Final.
However, when the draw appeared to open up for England early on in the tournament with the likes of Germany not even making it out of the group stages. Then Argentina, Portugal, Spain and Brazil crashing out, things were looking good for Gareth Southgates team.
Croatia had other ideas. Having overcome Denmark and Russia on penalties in the previous knockout stages, this Croatian team were made of stern stuff. With the likes of Modric, perisic, Lovren, mandzukic not to mention their in form keeper Subasic, England’s opponents should never of been taken lightly.
Judging by the first half performance, it was clear England were fully prepared and controlled proceedings with Sterling, Tripier and Henderson particularly shining. In defence, the likes of Maguire, Stones and Walker looked solid as did their keeper Pickford.
It was difficult to see Croatia coming back into this match after England stormed to a 1-0 advantage after just 5 minutes through an excellent Trippier free kick which gave Subasic no chance.
In truth, England should have killed the game off particularly with Croatia’s back line looking extremely unsettled and Harry Kane in particular was guilty of missing a golden opportunity.
However, there is a saying in football that a one goal advantage is dangerous and the 2nd half proved why. Croatia looked much better, and began to push England back. Croatia, who many had predicted would tire due to their last 2 matches that required 120 minutes on both occasions, looked re markedly fresher than England.
On 68 minutes Ivan Perisic met a Sime Vrsaljko cross and managed to lift his leg high enough above the desperate Kyle Walker to drive home the all important equlaiser.
England then seemed to lose confidence and Croatia had the extra step in their play. Suddenly, Croatia were quicker, much crisper with their passing, braver and more confident and England were lucky not to lose this match in normal time.
Extra Time Drama – 30 minutes more!
In Extra time, there was nothing between the teams, until 4 minutes into the 2nd period of extra time when disaster struck for England. Ivan Perisic managed to get his head to the ball and divert towards Mario Mandzukic who lost Stones and he made no mistake with a low finish across Jordan Pickfords body.
Trippier then sustained what looked like a Groin injury and England were down to 10 men 5 minutes from the end of extra time, and Croatia comfortably saw the remaining minutes out to book themselves into their first ever World Cup Final!
Congratulations to Croatia, and I genuinely hope they win it now only because they have never won the World Cup before and it will be great for their country of only 4 million people!
France Will Play Croatia in the Final
France will join Croatia in the Final after another decent display, this time against Belgium, who went into this match as the only team left who had won all 5 of their World Cup matches.
I honestly felt that whoever went on to win this encounter would end up winning the World Cup as they had both arguably been the best teams of the World Cup thus far.
Belgium had looked excellent going forward with the likes of Hazard, lukaku and De Bruyne.
As for France, they had the likes of Pogba, Kante, Griezmann and not forgetting the formidable Mbappe, who is amazinly only 19 years old! When the likes of Nabil Fekir are on the bench and can’t make it into the first 11, you know this must be an incredibly talented French team.
As for the match itself, France had started a little slowly and it was Belgium who looked the more threatening early on.
However, as the first half progressed, France were looking more and more dangerous and only Belgium stopper Thibaut Courtois was keeping the match level.
The 2nd half continued where the 1st half left of with France probing and looking the more likely to score, and indeed on 51 minutes they did. A corner from Antoine Griezmann was swung in and Samuel Umtiti was there, ahead of Fellani at the near post, to head past the helpless Courtois.
Belgium were forced to come forward more and obviously this left gaps at the back for France to exploit which they should of done. Giroud in particular was guilty of missing a few chances and France did live a little dangerously in the last 5 minutes, but had enough to see the match out 1-0 and make their 2nd World Cup Final.
Their first final in 1998 was extremely memorable as they beat Brazil 3-0, and now they have a chance to win the famous trophy once again!