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Pride costs Croatia's striker a place in World Cup final

15 July 2018

Croatia defeated England Wednesday in a semi-final match and will make its first-ever appearance in the World Cup final against France Sunday.

Before the following statement I was a neutral going into tomorrow's World Cup final, but after Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic promised to get a tattoo on his forehead if his country win against France on Sunday, my opinions have somewhat changed.

The Three Lions signed off their Russian Federation 2018 campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Belgium in Saturday's third-place playoff, falling to goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard. Croatia won five gold, three silver and two bronze medals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics; they had won five medals, including three gold, at the 2012 London Olympics.

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"I am unbelievably proud of the way we played", the 47-year-old said after the match.

He particularly underscored the strong efforts of center-back John Stones, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and striker Harry Kane. "But we also have to be realistic and when you look back at the tournament, these players made history back in Belgium, and that's all that matters", Martinez said.

Kane is set to finish as the tournament's top scorer with six goals, although three of those came in a 6-1 win over Panama and he has not scored in England's last three games. "We haven't produced quite enough moments of quality around the penalty area in the tournament", he said.

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They lost a semi-final to eventual winners Spain in 2010, but bounced back to become world champions in Brazil four years later. And I don't think after the six or seven weeks we have been together, that we could have given more".

"Today was always going to be a really hard game". A very serious match awaits us, we will spend much energy.

But he added: "I don't think we've achieved anything yet". He's led the culture that we're trying to create. "We've got to improve, we've got to get better, but it will come".

"We've had a wonderful experience, and I think all our supporters have as well so we'd like to thank you for that".

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Pride costs Croatia's striker a place in World Cup final