Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

Croatia official allowed to watch semis despite conviction

Croatia official allowed to watch semis despite conviction

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is hopeful that he country's national team will make it through to semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, she told Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi on Saturday before the Russia vs Croatia quarterfinal match.

Tens of thousands of Russians gathered in Moscow on Sunday to cheer the national team, after its defeat to Croatia in a penalty shoot-out brought an unlikely World Cup run to an emotional end.

"Croatia has great players at great clubs around Europe", Dalic told Sky Sports News.

"Those memories are painful and the players realise this is their time", said Bilic. In 2002, 2006 and 2014 they were eliminated in the group stages, and they failed to qualify for the 2010 tournament.

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Despite the pre-World Cup barbs and snipes regarding Russia's quality and the politically-charged commentary related to the hosts, they bowed out in style, having exceeded expectations and injected the tournament with a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

The midfield, in particular, has an enviable El Clásico combination of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitić.

The worrying thought about what we will do with ourselves once it is over can wait, because two well-matched semi-finals await.

While Croatian players, who have been asked constantly about the generation of 1998 and never fail to express their admiration for the likes of Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker, those comparisons are a weight they feel is unneeded.

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And the singing continued long into the night as players enjoyed a midnight meal together at the hotel with more renditions of Moja Domovina.

Eight of England's 11 goals so far have come via free kicks, corners or penalties, which is four more than any other team and the most since Portugal also scored eight set-piece goals at the World Cup in 1966. 'To be fair, we've had some good sportsmen like [Goran] Ivanisevic in tennis, he won Wimbledon, basketball is huge and we were good.

The Telegraph reports that both FIFA, the global football governing body, and Russia have refused to state the number of drug tests the Russian players completed prior to the World Cup.

18 of the 20 World Cups of all-time have gone to nations that aren't these four - have we ever seen such an open contest? I don't know to what extent you see the level of celebrations in Croatia. Everyone has been out on the streets celebrating what we've achieved and that is a great source of pride for us.

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