Baku, July 11, AZERTAC
Team France has become the first finalist of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and will face the winner of the England vs. Croatia semifinal due on Wednesday, according to TASS.
In the first semifinal match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, played on Tuesday night in Russia’s St. Petersburg, the French national football team defeated Belgium 1-0 to become the first team to vie for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.
The only goal in the game was scored after the teams'15-minute mid-time break with a thunderous shot on the speed from a corner kick of French defender Samuel Umtiti.
The match at the over 68,000-seat capacity Saint Petersburg Arena saw an attendance of some 64,286, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, French President Emmanuel Macron as well as King Philippe of Belgium with his spouse Queen Mathilde. The list of football fans being present in Saint Petersburg for the match between France and Belgium saw a host of celebrities including legendary rock star Mick Jagger from 'Rolling Stones' and Hollywood film star Pamela Anderson.
The World Cup final will take place at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on July 15. The match for the third place will be held on July 14 in St. Petersburg.
England and Croatia prepare for historic semifinal
So far, England’s only semifinal took place in 1966, during the domestic tournament. On July 30, 1966 the team defeated West Germany 4:2 at London’s Wembley Stadium in London.
Croatia’s highest-ever World Cup achievement is third place at the 1998 World Cup in France.
In their quarterfinal matches on Saturday night, England defeated Sweden 2:0 and Croatia knocked out Russia with the 4-3 penalty shootout win following 2-2 draw in the regular and 30-minute overtime period.
Between the games, Team Croatia trained at a field of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex, while England trained in St. Petersburg.
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic believes that the present-day team is at least not weaker than it used to be in the 1998.
"The Croatian team has very good players. I believe that the generation of our players was underestimated for too long, but they were able to demonstrate their best qualities during this World Cup. They will remain in the football history as the generation of strong players," Dalic said.
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