Low expectations not the only reason for England's improvement - Southgate

Croatia after they beat Russia on penalties during their quarter final match

"I think the public have enjoyed it", Southgate said before Saturday's third place play-off against Belgium.

England are now ranked joint 12th in the official Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings alongside Denmark but their run in Russia should see that position improve.

Southgate reported that everyone had trained on Friday, but that some of those who had featured in the semi-final may not have recovered sufficiently to face the Belgians.

Here's one reason Catholics in the USA might be rooting for the small Central European country: Croatia is a deeply Catholic country, and the coach of its national team, Zlatko Dalic, is a man of honest faith.

"It's impossible to say anything to make the players feel better at this moment in time", he said. Niall McCarthy from Forbes reported that $391m of this goes to teams to be spent on tournament preparation and medical insurance for potential player injuries.

"We've prepared everything to win the game even if its extra time or penalties".

"They coped brilliantly with all of that".

The lead was doubled in the 62nd minute by Ivica Olic, who had also played in the 1998 fixture and put his team on the verge of another famous victory. Many people told me that they celebrated the goal [against England] like it was a goal scored by their own country. "There's an energy and connection that's back".

"I hope for fair play and a good atmosphere", she added, but did not want to predict the result. Our aim is to build with a system now through the development teams. "And Belgium have beaten us once already so we'd like to address that".

"We have to decide who can go again physically", said Southgate.

"It's not actually my decision, but I agree with it".

The third-place match was dropped from the European championship by UEFA following the 1980 tournament but has remained part of the World Cup calendar despite complaints.

"The support we've had from home is vast". "We've been able to use free transport with our fan IDs so getting around hasn't been a problem". The country has united behind football. We have the chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.

"We were planning to leave, but now we have to stay until Monday", said Sinisa Pavlek, a Croat living in Germany, as he emerged from the stadium with a broad smile.

"The feeling we have is we're proud and we hope, come our matches in September, that warm feeling about global football will be there again". First of all I'm so proud of this team and staff for giving everything we could over a long period of time together. "There is a balance to all of that".

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