England holds its breath as World Cup semi-final looms

England's Gary Lineker celebrates after scoring the equalising goal against West Germany

"Come on England - it's coming home!"

When the song first was released, the chorus proclaimed "Three lions on a shirt/Jules Rimet still gleaming/Thirty years of hurt/never stopped me dreaming".

England hasn't played in the semifinals of a major tournament since Southgate's penalty kick at Wembley was saved by Andreas Koepke 22 years ago, and Andrea Moeller put the next kick over David Seaman and under the crossbar.

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic thinks the spirit that carried the team through those tense knockout matches will stand it in good stead against England, which is hoping to beat two European nations at a World Cup for the first time since 1982. I met the Croatian prime minister yesterday and we exchanged football shirts.

France reached the final for the third time in their history on Tuesday when a second-half header from Samuel Umtiti gave the 1998 champions a 1-0 victory against Belgium in Saint Petersburg.

Southgate said he was convinced that win or lose on Wednesday, his team have a bright future after decades of English under-achievement on the worldwide stage.

It is Croatia's second World Cup semi-final since gaining independence following the break up of Yugoslavia. The game will start at 7pm BST on Wednesday.


May will not attend the match because Britain has imposed a diplomatic boycott on Russia after blaming Moscow for the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy in England.

"Let me tell you, whether we win or lose the game, my life will not change", he said.

"We've got to keep getting over those hurdles and I know we talked about the success of the younger teams but this is a much harder, much bigger level for the players and the belief is building as things are happening". We never want to be reactive, ... "The age of the players, the improvement in the players, the hunger in the players has been apparent for everybody to see".

Gareth Southgate has warned that England's semi-final against Croatia will be his side's toughest test at the World Cup so far.

"They have a lot of quality, they play well, well organised and a physically strong, but we are also aware of our quality". It's completely irrelevant, that 4-1 defeat.

"I watched the last two games in a very nice bar at the Lakes Resort Hotel Vilamoura. You are just nitpicking my poor performances".

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