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There's nothing like a hug to comfort you after your team loses a World Cup match.

The side led by Luka Modric booked their place in the World Cup final for the first time in the country's history and are now assured of going at least one step further than Davor Suker's "Generation of 1998".

Gareth Southgate has been promised free pizza for life after guiding England to the World Cup semi-final in Russian Federation.

The England players "came of age" during the World Cup, said new manager-of-the-moment Southgate after their semi-final defeat by Croatia.

"Many of our players have come of age on the global stage".

However, given Croatia's impressive scoring record, it's no surprise England failed to cling on to their advantage.

Two weeks ago, former England global Steve McManaman was asked on ESPN to predict the results of the knockout stages.

England boss cites Germany blueprint as model for success

While most of his colleagues picked a Brazil v Spain final, McManaman barely put a foot wrong and backed France to beat Croatia in the final.

"The honest thing is it's not a game any team wants to play in", Southgate said. "Belgium have already beaten us (1-0 in the group stage) so we'd like to address that".

"In terms of mentality it's obviously been a really hard couple of days for us", he said, revealing there would be some changes for the Belgium game.

"We're here to improve every time we play", he continued". But once you're here and played as well as we did, you want to take those opportunities in life.

"Of course it is going to be a really hard task over the next 24 hours to assess everybody and to get everybody mentally back to where we want them for a game like that. There's a long way for us to go".

Could Croatia pull off an unlikely upset in the final?

"I don't know what you're saying in the dressing room to the players, but whatever you're saying, it's working".

Mixed feelings for Belgium as they are feted by fans
They know what is at stake, but if they are unable to give their all they will tell us. Against the best teams we have come up short, but we have had a wonderful experience.



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