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England thrive in World Cup 'bubble' ahead of Croatia semi-final

AFP  |  Repino 

As excitement builds in England in the run-up to the country's first semi-final for 28 years, insists Gareth Southgate's team are keeping a in their tournament "bubble".

England's matches so far in have attracted huge television audiences at home and wild celebrations, with and his vibrant young squad capturing the hearts of a nation.

In sharp contrast to the feverish atmosphere, and his teammates are in relaxed mood in the sleepy seaside resort of Repino, 45 kilometres (28 miles) northwest of Saint Petersburg.

"You are in your own little bubble when here -- training camp, coming back, getting ready for the next game. It is not until you look at and the internet that you realise how big it is," said on Monday.

"Obviously we know we are playing in the World Cup, in the semi-final. We are so focused on the games that you forget what we have done so far.

"It is important that we stay like that, keep going and hopefully we achieve something to make it even more special to get to the final and win it."

Alli scored his first goal as England cruised into the last four with a 2-0 win over on Saturday.

A much tougher test is expected in against a side that swept past in the group stages and boasts the midfield talents of Real Madrid's and of

But while many pundits and even England fans are surprised by their progress, Alli says the squad always believed they could go far.

"We had to believe and we know how talented we are as a squad," he added.

"We know we have some unbelievable players and a and everyone is clear on what we want to do.

"When you have such a solid foundation, you have the basics and clear understanding of what we want to do and achieve, it's not a surprise that it's going well for us."

- defy controversy -


The calmness in on and off the field is in stark contrast to Croatia's experience.

In the latest in a series of controversies, former international Ognjen Vukojevic was kicked out of their delegation on Monday and fined by for posting a pro-video clip following their penalty shootout victory over on Saturday.

Defender Domagoj Vida, who scored against Russia, escaped with just a warning from FIFA, which bans political statements, for also appearing in the video and shouting "Glory to Ukraine!"

Earlier in the tournament, AC Milan striker was sent home, reportedly over a disagreement with about his fitness.

Croatia's build-up to the tournament was overshadowed by the graft trial of former Dinamo Zagreb chief and charges against Modric for alleged false testimony in that case.

Despite that, Modric's three man-of-the-match performances and two winning penalties from Rakitic in shootout wins over and have seen them match Croatia's best-ever performance 20 years ago in

Physical exertions to reach the last four could take their toll but Dalic believes his side will have the to end England's dream.

"Of course there is some power left for the English," said Dalic. It will be a battle again but I trust us. I have belief in us.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 09:40 IST