Gareth Southgate gave England staff handwritten notes before World Cup

Ivan Rakitic revealed he was suffering with a fever in the days leading up to Croatia's 2-1 semi-final win over England at the World Cup.

Mario Mandzukic scored in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium giving the Balkan nation its first ever place in the finals in history, surprising even some fans with the result.

Kieran Tripper, who was perhaps England's best player out in Russian Federation and scored on the night, was comforted by wife Charlotte and their young daughter. "We can't do that now but we want to finish third".

"It's still something massively to play for, to be the third-best team in the world", Walker said after Wednesday's semifinal loss to Croatia. "It hurts. I don't know what else to say".

Germany went into their home World Cup 12 years ago on the back of two successive group-stage exits in the 2000 and 2004 European Championships - although they had reached the World Cup final in 2002. The ball hit the post, ricocheted off Subasic and somehow looped up to safety.

While Croatia deserve huge credit for beating England, the truth is the Three Lions could have been out of sight by half-time and Croatia's vulnerability at the back could easily be exploited by this explosive French side. The sound was eclipsed only by the joy that greeted Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor and the impromptu fireworks celebration in the wake of the final whistle.

For an hour, it looked like England would be headed to Sunday's World Cup.

England learned that lesson in its opening 2-1 win over Tunisia in Volgograd. The North Africans then leveled with a penalty.

France: "We expect a really tough team in the final, I think they're more hard than England". "We restored some pride back into the shirt, which was an important thing for us to do". Sometimes, when England go out of a tournament, there is a need to press the reset button and start again but that is far from the case this time.

England are heading home, or at least they will after Saturday's third/fourth place play-off against Belgium, which is a complete and utter waste of time. We could also be celebrating our captain Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot as top goalscorer.

"Modric has had a brilliant season with Real Madrid and here, he's still sprinting about the pitch in the 115th minute", said the coach.

  • Julie Sanders