Russian players find solace in thousands of fans

England fans celebrate at the end of their Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 match against Colombia at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow

England fans celebrate at the end of their Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 match against Colombia at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow

They may have lost 4-3 to Croatia on penalties after 2-2 draw in regular and extra time in the quarter-finals at to exit the tournament on Saturday, but for many reasons, Russian players and fans have exited the tournament with their heads held high.

"I've decided that it's time for me to go".

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia has two of the best midfielders in the world and should provide England with its hardest test yet.

"But we believe in our strengths too".

Eight minutes (and two yellow cards) later Croatia responded with a 39-minute goal from Andrej Kramarić. Not only is that now the best result of the 2018 World Cup for the Rupert Murdoch owned outlet in the early metrics but it is also the best any Men's match has done on any American network since the 2014 Federation Internationale de Football Association tournament's Germany winning final.

Before this year, Belgium's best ever World Cup performance was a fourth place finish in 1986.

The likes of Alexandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev, and Artem Dzyuba were impressive as Russian Federation built on the momentum to cause one of the biggest upsets of the tournament as they knocked out the La Roja on penalties in the quarter-final.

That is the opinion of Wales and Liverpool legend Ian Rush, who was in town over the weekend as a World Cup pundit for local broadcasters.

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But moments later, there was applause.

The past really means little for a lot of them.

The headlines in Russian Federation read, "Moscow did not sleep after the match", "Thanks, guys", "Simply great", and "Fighting until the end". "We'll just have to assess the bodies", said Southgate.

"This looks like a nation with a newfound sense of footballing confidence - and expectations for the future", said Challands. "But the World Cup is an ideal time to make a difference and prove that we too cannot leave behind a mountain of garbage", Sports.ru suggested.

The Russians as hosts did not need to qualify for the World Cup and their ranking of 70 in the world was the lowest among all teams in Russia, even lower than worldwide football minnows Saudi Arabia.

"This was not a handsome game, but it was a fight", Dalic commented.

The first to speak to the fans was the team's chief coach Stanislav Cherchesov who thanked all those who had supported the team.

The 51-year-old coach, who has only been in charge of the national side since October, was asked about England's strengths and weaknesses and said: "I wouldn't say there are any glaring weaknesses - they are in the semi-finals, that says it all".

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