Croatian president flies economy class to Russian Federation to cheer World Cup team

Alexander Demyanchuk  TASS

Alexander Demyanchuk TASS

"I think for a country like Croatia it is impressive and we want to keep going further", said Rakitic.

The likes of Alexandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev, and Artem Dzyuba were impressive as Russian Federation built on the momentum to cause one of the biggest upsets of the tournament as they knocked out the La Roja on penalties in the quarter-final. "It's up to us now which games we play in".

The Russian tactician added that he had told Putin that the team was disappointed after the heartbreaking loss but that the 65-year-old leader asked them to get over it and focus on the future. "At this point we will not give up anything and will play against England with all the enthusiasm and passion of Croatian football".

France are perhaps peaking ahead of their time, with Didier Deschamps' young team viewed by many as not likely to mature into potential World Cup winners until Qatar 2022.

England trio Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire are looking to guide their side to only their second World Cup final. "But now we are collecting those debts in this World Cup".

There's an argument to be made that all four World Cup semifinalists are playing with house money.

But Rakitic jumped to the defence of his midfield co-star after the match. When captain Igor Akinfeev and talisman Artem Dzyuba were handed the microphone to address the fans, all of Vorobyovy Gory was drowned out in applause. If there is no victor after 120 minutes the tie is decided on penalties. Starting right back Sime Vrsaljko had to be replaced during extra time with an apparent leg injury, though fellow defender Dejan Lovren was optimistic Sunday that Vrsaljko would be able to play with the semifinal looming on Wednesday.

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Forbes even wrote 5 things to know before the encounter, giving Croatia the advantage.

Croatia and Belgium have never finished better than third and fourth, respectively.

"We saw how good they are from dead balls so will have to focus more on defending set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece today, so have to improve that element of our game". Alongside them is Inter Milan's Ivan Perišić and upfront the warrior-like Mario Mandžukić.

Follow Al Jazeera's coverage of the World Cup 2018 here.

"They breezed past Sweden".

France, world champions in 1998, are slight favorites to go through according to most bookmakers, but Belgium tend to step up their game against these particular European rivals, if history is anything to go by.

Gareth Southgate's side's potency from set-pieces was certainly on the minds of Croatia after they were forced into penalties by Russian Federation.

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