World Cup: A Semifinal Match To Savor?

Folks, the match yesterday wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped, and there was some poor refereeing to boot!  Let’s hope today’s second semifinal is better.

At 2 today, England v Croatia.  Should be a good battle, but I’ve no good feel for who will emerge victorious.  I give the English team a higher chance because of their experience, but the energy is with Croatia.

Enjoy the match, we’ll be back Saturday for the Third Place Playoff, and the finale on Sunday. Let’s hope we’re not too stunned by Trump’s sucking up to Putin to not care about the match.

137 replies
  1. 1
    piratedan says:

    hate to say, I haven’t seen much of this as I’m kind of personally boycotting all things Fox and Russia. That being said, good luck to both squads and hope that its an entertaining match showcasing how awesome soccer can be….

  2. 2
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’m not a soccer fan, but I did watch Russia vs. Croatia, rooting for Croatia to make Putin cry. I’ll be rooting for England today out of family loyalty, but if Croatia wins, I won’t be all that sad about it — they’re a terrific team.

  3. 3
    Paul W. says:

    England v France is my hope, but would not be sad with Croatia either!

  4. 4
    guachi says:

    I want England to win just so we can have Waterloo II in Russia.

    Too much Napoleon for one match.

  5. 5
    Tom Levenson says:

    @guachi: I only wish there were someone named Wellington on the England side.

  6. 6
    rikyrah says:

    Good luck to the underdog

  7. 7
    Yarrow says:

    Definitely for England.

  8. 8
    trollhattan says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    Somebody could wear wellies instead of cleats!

  9. 9
    mad citizen says:

    Hrvatska all the way!

  10. 10
    Tom Levenson says:

    @trollhattan: ;-)

  11. 11
    Tony Jay says:

    Watching with my 5 year old.

    Lots of questions. (8-)


  12. 12
    khead says:

    Well, that didn’t take long.

  13. 13
    mali muso says:

    Wait, what?

  14. 14
    Yarrow says:


  15. 15
    raven says:

    I thought the consensus here yesterday was that it was well officiated?

  16. 16
    Tony Jay says:

    Oh that’s a lovely free kick from Trippier. Up and over really fast, keeper didn’t have a hope.

    England are really giving this a blast from the start. Croatia are looking pretty rattled.

  17. 17
    trollhattan says:

    Following the BBC live feed since I’m out of video options and am greatly amused by the slang and nicknames. “Old Slabhead.”

  18. 18
    Tony Jay says:


    It was, until the last ten minutes when he denied the Belgians a stone wall free kick on the edge of the box and let the French eat up time by dropping all over the pitch like soft Autumn rain. Far from the worst we’ve seen though.

  19. 19
    Roger Moore says:


    I want England to win just so we can have Waterloo II in Russia.

    England vs. France. This time it isn’t war!

  20. 20
    Shell says:

    @Betty Cracker: Betty, after today, I think we all could use a couple pics of your pup. Hows the little guy doing?

  21. 21
    Yarrow says:

    Did the blog have a hiccup?

  22. 22
    randy khan says:

    The Guardian’s live blog is great. Here’s a sample:

    Modric shows in the final third at last. His baroque dribbles confuse England awhile, and then the ball breaks back to Rebic, who sends a rising heatseeker towards the top left. Pickford has his hands warmed for the first time this evening, but it’s an easy enough gather.

    “Baroque dribbles” – I love it!

  23. 23
    ruemara says:

    I must admit that the ancestors are rooting for England, but, meh, whatever humiliates Russia works for me. There’s also an awful popup ad that is making the usually terrible situation with video ads on this site now horrible and unusable on my Kindle. 8 tries to get the fucking close window x to fucking close. I can’t exactly watch the game and work – although I might go home because the ancient tech they’ve given the designer plus the craptastic WAN are giving me the mother of all headaches – so cheer loudly for me and let me know who’s winning. ENGLAND!

  24. 24
    Litlebritdifrnt says:


  25. 25
    HeleninEire says:

    Watching in a pub. Considering everyone’s attitude here from the beginning was “Anyone but England” doesn’t look so good.

  26. 26

    I am not liking the positioning of AR-2 (the one that we have a clear view on. He seems to be about 1 step too far upfield for too many plays

  27. 27
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Tap-tap-tap … is this thing on?

    England looks good.

  28. 28
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Shell: Here’s one with an adorably furrowed brow:

  29. 29

    that yellow makes sense. tool not weapon but it was high

  30. 30
    mali muso says:

    Missed the first twenty minutes because my meeting ran long. Rooting for England if for no other reason than they typically suck so badly at the WC, it’s a nice change to see them succeeding. And it would be fun to see an England-France rivalry.

  31. 31
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    Shat the bed, more like. This is the first time I’ve been able to connect in an hour.

    Everyone will be delighted to know that Cox Cable is showing the match. The on-screen schedule got corrected sometime during the night, which I guess was the real (and only) problem.

    In any case, I am over at Sighthound Hall, watching with Kitty, the resident greyhound. The family is in Brazil for three weeks, and Aunt Eloiza has been housesitting, but she is out all day today, so I came over to let the dog out. We are ass to hip on the couch, waiting for the second half to start.

    Oops, it has started. I was looking in on the Wimbledon match. Nadal has his hands full with Del Potro. They’re even in the fifth set.

  32. 32
    Tony Jay says:

    What happened to the blog?

    Anyhoo. Wow, we’re making this look easier than it should be, apart from when we get distracted and make it look hard. Should be at least 2-0 up by now, and Croatia will come back at us if we let them.

    Use our pace and strength, pin them back, panic their back line, take the chances that fall to us. Don’t let them pass their way back into it.

  33. 33
    Yarrow says:

    England seem a bit rattled or something.

  34. 34
    waratah says:

    Testing to see why no one is commenting

  35. 35
    Yarrow says:

    @waratah: Blog crapped out for awhile. I tried to comment but it just went to “database connection error.”

  36. 36
    Yutsano says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    Nadal has his hands full with Del Potro.

    Something going on with Rafael? He’s not one to waste time on opponents if he outclasses them.

  37. 37
    Bostonian says:

    This match is getting a bit kooky

  38. 38
    HeleninEire says:

    @Betty Cracker: AWEEEEEEE

  39. 39
    mali muso says:

    @Yarrow: Yeah, I was getting the same error for a bit.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Bostonian says:

    Is Walker hurt because that handball was so hard?

  42. 42
    Paul W. says:

    I’m not liking this ref, he’s letting too much go and then abruptly calling penalties. Players are getting stirred up, and it seems really poor form to not credit Walker after he got walloped right in the nuts.

  43. 43
    HeleninEire says:


  44. 44
    Domestic short hair tabby (fka vheidi) says:

    Is it just me, or are Croatia playing dirty?

  45. 45
    Tony Jay says:

    Well that’s no surprise. Inviting it all half.

  46. 46
    mali muso says:

    Ah well. Going to be a slog now…

  47. 47
    Amir Khalid says:

    1-1 to Croatia.

  48. 48
    Yarrow says:


  49. 49
    Yarrow says:

    Where are England? This is terrible. Wake up!

  50. 50
    mali muso says:

    holy crap, that was just about another goal. Croatia have turned it up. England had better get their stuff together.

  51. 51
    Bostonian says:

    Now that was a lucky save for Pickford

  52. 52
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    Nadal is not outclassing anyone. He’s seeded 2, Del Potro 5, and it’s a dead even match (quarter ­finals).

  53. 53
    Tony Jay says:

    The referee is really letting Croatia ‘use their physicality’ to break up England’s play. England are getting frustrated and rushing their play because they’re worried they’ll get barged off the ball. We can carve these open if we get at their back line, which is why their second half tactic has been based around keeping the ball out of their half.

  54. 54
    mali muso says:

    Ok, what is up with England almost putting it in their own box when they should be pushing it back forward?

  55. 55
    Bostonian says:

    If the Czechs keep doing that eventually it will go in

  56. 56
    Yarrow says:

    @mali muso: They’ve been doing it the whole time. I don’t understand it at all.

  57. 57
    bemused senior says:

    Rooting for Croatia. Maternal family from there, and a Croatian friend would be ecstatic if they won. Also, they poked Russia in the eye.

  58. 58
    Tony Jay says:

    A free kick? For England? That’s rare.

  59. 59
    Amir Khalid says:

    The match might hinge on which side are less tired in extra time.

  60. 60
    Tony Jay says:

    If Kane wasn’t Captain Fantastical bed have been taken off by now. He looks tired.

  61. 61
    Yarrow says:

    Kane just seems to be a bit off today.

  62. 62
    Bostonian says:

    Okay, who’s up for running back and forth for another half hour? Harry?

  63. 63
    mali muso says:

    Well, unless England can figure out how to get back some control, it feels like Croatia has the advantage. They seem more confident and dominating possession.

  64. 64
    Yarrow says:

    @mali muso: Agree. England look tired.

  65. 65
    HumboldtBlue says:


    And all the pregame talk was about how Croatia should be tired after two 120 minute matches.

  66. 66
    mali muso says:

    @HumboldtBlue: I know, right? So much for that theory.

  67. 67
    Tony Jay says:

    Stop Croatia getting down the wings to cross balls.
    Get the ball forward faster with runners, press their vulnerable defence.
    When we do get a break, pick the right ball, finish the chance.

    This is a young team who nothing much was expected of. They’ve already done enough to be proud. But just a little bit more effort and they can give themselves a chance at the shiny brass ring.

    And Dele Ali looks wasted. Lotus-Cheek might be a better bet.

  68. 68
    Yarrow says:

    @HumboldtBlue: Yep. Croatia is starting to look a bit tired too. They were all full of energy after that goal and kept that for awhile but toward the end of the second half they looked tired too.

  69. 69
    Tony Jay says:

    Asking a lot of Diet to come right in and take on the Henderson role. Box to box running called for.

    Oooh, almost by Stones.

  70. 70
    HumboldtBlue says:

    awfully close John Stones

  71. 71
    Tony Jay says:

    That’s never a free kick. Total fake and five by the Croatian.

  72. 72
    Tony Jay says:

    My God spell check hates me!!!

  73. 73
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Ref has not had the best match

  74. 74
    mali muso says:

    @HumboldtBlue: Yeah, he seems to let some things go and then suddenly call others that you wouldn’t expect.

  75. 75
    HumboldtBlue says:

    woah! Nice Pickford!

  76. 76
    HumboldtBlue says:

    @mali muso:

    Yes, missed the kick on Delli and let the fake foul for Croatia go through

  77. 77
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Tony Jay:
    Spell check hates us all.

  78. 78
    Tony Jay says:

    Fantastic block by Pickford.

    Croatia are getting away with multiple little fouls out there. Breaking up play and winding England up.

    If this were a game in the group stage VAR would have been used a dozen times and quite a few yellow cards would have been waggled.

  79. 79
    randy khan says:

    More from the Guardian live blog as we go to the 2nd half of extra time, on the sequence just before the half:

    Pickford comes out bravely to put the striker off: he star jumps and Mandzukic’s effort is deflected wide and high. What a save! But he’s also crumped Mandzukic in his trouser arrangement with his knee. So there’s a bit of time for the striker to catch his breath before the corner’s taken.

  80. 80
    Tony Jay says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Plucking right it doze!

  81. 81
    trollhattan says:

    @randy khan:
    “trouser arrangement” for the win!

  82. 82
    mali muso says:

    And that’s it.

  83. 83
    Tony Jay says:


    One mistake. There you go.

  84. 84
    Amir Khalid says:

    Croatia lead 2-1! The England defence looked tired.

  85. 85
    Yarrow says:

    Just knew that was coming. Sigh.

  86. 86
    HumboldtBlue says:


  87. 87
    mali muso says:

    England defense has been sucking for a while (Pickford notwithstanding), so I’m not surprised. Pretty sure that’s the end of it. Ah well.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    One of our office mates is of Croatian descent. He’s going nuts.

    His parents are in Europe somewhere on vacation watching this, too.

  89. 89
    Tony Jay says:

    Five England players responding to the crap defensive header by strolling slowly towards the edge of the box like Reservoir Dogs. Wake the duck up boys, you’re going out.

  90. 90
    HumboldtBlue says:

    Pete Postlethwaite look-a-like scores again.

  91. 91
    Platonailed it says:

    A great header pass and a great finish by Mandzukic.

  92. 92
    raven says:

    @HumboldtBlue: He should have gotten the Oscar for In The Name of the Father.

  93. 93
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Sorry, England fans, but a Croatia win would be a marvelous “FUCK YOU” to Russia and to FIFA.

  94. 94
    Platonailedit says:

    A great header pass and a great finish by Mandzukic. The familiar heartache for the english?

  95. 95
    donatellonerd says:

    England having voted for brexit doesn’t deserve to win.

  96. 96
    Tony Jay says:


    Oh piss off turtlegeek.

  97. 97
    Bostonian says:

    Nice dive

  98. 98
    mali muso says:

    Wait, so no call on that?

  99. 99
    Platonailedit says:

    It could have been easily 3-1.

  100. 100
    Tony Jay says:

    Must be a good chunk of injury time to add on, but we’re down to 10 men.

    Jesus Christ this referee is giving us nothing. Croatia are more than happy to stick an elbow on here and stick a foot out there because they’re not being penalised for it.

  101. 101
    Bostonian says:

    Sb red card on dele

  102. 102
    Amir Khalid says:

    England have already exceeded expectations by getting this far. If they go out at this stage, they’ll still have done their country proud, and people will still want Gareth Southgate to be PM.

  103. 103
    mali muso says:

    @Tony Jay: Yeah, the ref sure hasn’t been stellar.

  104. 104
    Tony Jay says:

    This is our last chance. Decent ball in please.

  105. 105
  106. 106
    Platonailedit says:

    And Croats are in the final. Deserved winner.

  107. 107
    Amir Khalid says:

    Croatia in the final.

  108. 108
    HumboldtBlue says:

    That was a helluva run, good for the English.

    Vive Les Bleus!

  109. 109
    mali muso says:

    And that’s a wrap. Shame.

    Ah well. I’ll be cheering for France in the final.

  110. 110
    Gin & Tonic says:


  111. 111
    Bostonian says:

    Well deserved. England were outplayed.

  112. 112
    Yarrow says:

    Croatia deserved to win that one. Well done.

  113. 113
    Fester Addams says:

    Allez les Bleus !

  114. 114
    Platonailedit says:

    Too much of the football is coming home hype on these lads did not help imo.

  115. 115
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tony Jay: Your guys had a pretty good run.

  116. 116
    raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The made it to the Final Four and have a shot at third!

  117. 117
    Amir Khalid says:

    England needed a second goal when they were ahead. A two-goal lead would have given them a useful psychological advantage. They should also not have let Croatia rattle them in the second half. Croatia came to dominate the match and won on mental strength.

  118. 118
    Tony Jay says:

    Well, I’ll be singing French chansons on Sunday.

    Croatia did what they had to do to win that game but, man, if like to see the referee sat in front of a replay of the game and asked to explain why he allowed the Croats to get away with so many professional fouls.

    That said, we should have dealt with it better. Kane was anonymous. Dele Ali starved of service. The defence overworked and pressurized because there was no outlet in midfield, and when they did get it to someone they’d be swarmed and fouled. We needed Loftus-Cheek subbed on rather than Dier to give attacking intent and muscle enough to brush off the fouls.

    Ho hum. Euro 2020 looks like being this team’s big chance. Allen Les Bleus.

  119. 119
    bemused senior says:

    My Croatian friend said he hoped Russia wasn’t going to cut off the gas to Croatia when the Croatian player dedicated the prior win to Ukraine!

  120. 120
    Yarrow says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yep. So many wasted opportunities. They just couldn’t finish any of them. Something seemed off with England today. Maybe they were tired. They just didn’t seem to have it.

  121. 121
    Tony Jay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    They did. Don’t get me wrong, this is much further than I expected them to get and they’ve got a lot to be proud of, but uurrgghh! This was a winnable game.

  122. 122
    raven says:

    @Tony Jay: Kind of like my Dawgs taking Bama to overtime in the National Championship only to get beat on a 3rd and 27 bomb. Winning the Rose Bowl and the SEC the way we did was far beyond expectations but, yea, uurgghhh!

  123. 123
    🌷 Martin says:

    Well, when the ref lets a 2-handed shove not result in a yellow card early in the game, they set the rules for engagement. Croatia played under those rules and England didn’t. Shame in that. I prefer clean soccer over dirty, but this game favored dirty.

  124. 124
    Msb says:

    Congrats to England for getting as far as they did. As Clive James wrote about Wimbledon, having England’s hopes pinned on you tends to slow you down. I think Coach Southgate is a class act.
    Go, France!!

  125. 125
    Tony Jay says:


    Yup. Close, but close only means shit in area bombing and restraining orders. 8-)

    The boys did great, they just didn’t have the moves to rip the game back from Croatia in the second half. It happens, and in two years time England have a hell of a shot at becoming European Champions.

    Now, I drink.

  126. 126
    raven says:

    @Tony Jay: Unless you think it is the journey and not the destination!

  127. 127
    Shell says:

    @Betty Cracker: Awww, Sweetie!.. Oh, so worried.

  128. 128
    Amir Khalid says:

    Gareth Southgate, then England under-21 manager, was appointed caretaker senior-team manager when Sam Allardyce was forced out for things said to some shady football businesspeople. No one expected much from Southgate. And he has turned out to be a tremendous manager for England.

  129. 129
    Platonailedit says:

    My bet is on Croatia winning this WC. They won all their league games against tough opponents like Argentina and Nigeria and then won back to back penalty shootouts in knockout stage. Obviously, they are very good in open play as well as in dead ball scoring. They are the real underdogs who were under the radar most of the time since they had no big stars, which ultimately did them some good.

  130. 130
    Yarrow says:

    @Amir Khalid: He has been fantastic.

  131. 131
    Tony Jay says:


    Doesn’t that really only apply in skydiving?

  132. 132
    Tony Jay says:

    I think I’m correct in saying that England are World Champions already, in the under 21 and under 18 brackets, so the future is indeed bright.

  133. 133
    Victor Matheson says:

    Just my two cents here.

    First, the English are the most overrated and underperforming soccer country in the history of the planet. 20 World Cups and 15 Euros and has netted them a total of 1 appearance in the championship game. Seriously, 12 teams have made it to the final of the Euro over the past 60 years, and none of them are named England. And when you say they English overperformed to get to the final four, what the hell planet are you living on? England invented the game, has the world’s richest professional league, has a large population of 60 million, and one of the world’s largest GDP’s. By every measure they should be challenging for the title every single time out of the gate. And here this World Cup turns out to be one of their 3 best performances in history? Embarrassing.

    But despite the fact that the English are literally terrible at the game they invented, they act like they are God’s gift to the game. The US is full of soccer coaches whose only attribute or skill seems to be the ability to speak in an English accent, like that confers some status.

    As for today’s game. Well deserved for Croatia. As for the officiating, I only made it to the second half, so any errors in the first half, I missed. However, I have officiated 100 professional matches in the US (mainly in the minors, but about 25 MLS or equivalent matches) and over 1000 college games. I saw nothing in the 75 minutes that I watched that wasn’t spot on. Overall, this tournament as a whole has been the best officiated I have ever seen by an order of magnitude, partly due to the VAR. In fact, the threat of the VAR itself has probably prevented a huge number of off the ball incidents and has cleaned up a ton of the fouls in the penalty area. Sour grapes complaining about the officiating based on what I saw.

  134. 134
    Victor Matheson says:

    @Tony Jay: Hate to break this to you but the last six champions before England in the U-17 WC are – Nigeria, Nigeria, Mexico, Switzerland, Nigeria, Mexico. How’s that worked out for any of those countries?

    In the U-20 (not the U-21 – that is not a thing for FIFA although there is a UEFA U-21) things look a little more promising with the last 6 champions being Serbia, France, Brazil, Ghana, Argentina, Argentina. At least some of those countries wound up making later appearances in the WC finals.

  135. 135
    Platonailedit says:

    Some interesting stats from bbc.

    England have now been eliminated in four of their five semi-finals at major tournaments, losing each of the last four they have reached (Euro 1968 v Yugoslavia, World Cup 1990 v Germany, Euro 1996 v Germany and World Cup 2018 v Croatia).

    Croatia have qualified for their first ever World Cup final in their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals.

    England have lost three competitive games against Croatia (3) since the turn of the Millennium, more than any against any other nation.

    Croatia became the first team to play extra time in three consecutive World Cup matches since England in 1990.

    Four of the five 2018 World Cup matches to go to extra time have involved either England or Croatia (the other was Spain v Russia).

  136. 136
    Platonailedit says:

    “Self-made”? Really? It’s easy to become a billionaire when you’re parents are millionaires…It’s called generational wealth + nepotism.

    Try Oprah Winfrey, who was raised on a small Mississippi farm by her grandmother, for self-made *whispers Kylie also isn’t a billionaire yet*— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) July 11, 2018

  137. 137
    Sebastian says:

    @Tony Jay:

    Quit your whining. There was noone in the midfield because all of England was in their own penalty box. I saw at least four plays where literally ALL players were in the penalty box.

    It was embarassing football geared towards destroying any kind of offensive play by Croatia. I thought Croatia would lose because they seemed unable to crack it but subsequent chamges in their attacks opened it up and the equalizer forced England to start actually playing football instead of relying on set pieces.

    Once they had to actually PLAY instead of bunkering in their own half (what a fucking disgraceful display, the mighty English playing Cattenaccio! How aren’t you ashamed of yourself!) Croatia started having more and more chances. 22 attempts vs 11 for England. You are damn lucky this didn’t end in a humiliation.

    Croatia won this deserved and England sucks.

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