The World Cup-winning French team returned home to a heroes' welcome on Monday, parading down the Champs-Elysees as hundreds of thousands of cheering fans gave a raucous welcome to the country's newest idols.
“The greatest World Cup ever” got the final it deserved when a young, exciting France team swept aside Croatia with a pulsating 4-2 victory and performances that suggested a changing of the guard at the top of the sport.
Croatia’s run to the World Cup final is largely down to Luka Modric’s tireless work in midfield but the Croatians’ ability to switch tactics efficiently should be a warning for the opponent France on Sunday.
France has dispatched two former World Cup winners in the knockout stage but is still far from a polished product and only getting better, suggested coach Didier Deschamps in an ominous warning to the semifinal opponent Belgium.
England came into the World Cup with low expectations from its fans and much talk of building for the future but as it faces a quarterfinal with Sweden on Saturday, manager Gareth Southgate said this generation might not get a better chance to triumph.
An increasingly confident Sweden is relishing the prospect of a World Cup quarterfinal clash against England after displaying the best of its battling qualities in a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Tuesday’s Round of 16 tie.
As captain Harry Kane walked away from the celebrating England fans after his team’s heart-stopping World Cup penalty shootout win over Colombia on Tuesday he looked so relaxed he could have been strolling to the corner shop for a bottle of milk.