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World Cup 2018

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5 shots from Day 28 - Poor England weeping is a tough thing to see as Croatia march on

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Croatia Mario Mandzukic scored against England on 11 July 2018. AFP

  • Waistcoat Wednesday

Millions tuned in to the TV in Britain to watch the plucky England boys go down to Croatia. Many wore waistcoats in homage to England manager Gareth Southgate who has cut a very elegant dash in his waistcoat on the touchline. It has to be said the 47-year-old former England international is still a svelte figure and can therefore sport with the silhouette. Porkers beware. The trend setting has caught Sleekgate by surprise. “It’s different because I wasn’t a fashion icon during my playing days,” he said.

True. In his youth, Southgate, because of his sobriety and all round sensible shoes and demeanour, was nicknamed Nord after a middle-aged TV compere. Oh those dressing room jesters.

  • Weeping Wednesday

Well, at least it wasn’t Blue Monday. But Gareth Southgate confirmed the review’s suspicions in the prelude to the match with Croatia on day 28 that he wasn’t a fan of the Football’s Coming Home song that has blasted out every time England has played. The review highlighted the poor taste of this back on day five. “It’s a song I didn’t listen to for 20 years,” said Southgate.

  • England’s going home

But didn’t they do well? Semi-final of the World Cup. No one saw that coming. England do need a playmaker in the mould of a Luka Modric or an Andrea Pirlo. We know those kind of players are rare but along those lines. The review likes the way John Stones orchestrates proceedings at the back and strides out. Someone like that further upfield and that would be something to behold.

  • Warriors we

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has hailed his men for their epic reluctance to entertain weariness. Croatia endured extra-time and penalties in the last 16 and quarter-final games against Denmark and Russia respectively. And they went through extra-time again against England. “No one wanted to be substituted,” puffed Dalic after the 2-1 win over England. “Nobody wanted to give in and that kind of attitude makes me proud.” Woof!

  • Croatia vengeance

So Croatia are into their first World Cup final. The boys done well. Twenty years ago, Croatia were undone by Lillian Thuram’s brace in the World Cup semi-final. The defender was at fault for Croatia’s opener so he felt the best way to make amends was to go upfield and thump what were eventually his only two goals for the national team in a record 142 appearances. Thuram’s mother was so shocked at his second that she fainted. That defeat has been hurting the Croatians and they’re looking to make amends. Should be a cracker.