Captain Modric dreaming of Croatia’s fairytale finish in Russian Federation

Jordan Pickford

EPAJordan Pickford is beaten by Adnan Januzaj of Belgium

Uruguay take on France in the first of the quarter finals on Friday, followed by Brazil against Belgium.

The Croatia captain, widely respected by his fellow players for being a complete team man, took the penalty but his weak shot was blocked by Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel to send the match into a penalty shootout.

The federation said tests confirmed the player will not be able to recover in time to play again during the tournament in Russia.

"If you let France have space it will be very hard", Uruguay's coach Oscar Tabarez said.

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The host nation performed impressively just to escape from Group A and then shocked the world in the last 16 when they edged past Spain on penalties. Leonardo says 2-1 to his countrymen, and ESPN Deportes' Mauricio Pedroza is the only pundit to go for Belgium. Most of our pundits have gone for a France win; only Gab Marcotti bucks the trend by saying Uruguay will make the semifinals. These two teams are in top three, with Brazil coming second and Belgium coming third now in Federation Internationale de Football Association ranking. "We know our quality and we believe in ourselves and we are on the right track at the moment". When the World Cup began a few weeks ago, the teams that enjoyed maximum support were Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, Spain and Germany, thanks to the star-studded line-up of each team.

"I don't think France has had as powerful an attack since 1998 when they won the World Cup", said former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, who is a TV pundit in Moscow during the tournament. Six days on, the outcome of their quarter-final clash with Uruguay could be largely determined by the extent to which the 19-year-old Monaco frontman can outshine the South American side's vastly experienced duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

Spain appeared bereft of ideas in front of the opposition box, letting Russian Federation get away with defending for nearly the entire duration of the match.

Yet as they walk out to face the tournament favourites in Kazan on Friday, they might wish they were playing relative minnows Sweden instead.

France-Uruguay : les compos officielles
Le match programmé à 16 heures, pendant les heures de travail, a pourtant été manifestement très suivi. Les Bleus ont dominé la Celeste, vendredi, en quart de finale du Mondial (2-0).

Belgium were on the brink of another major tournament failure when trailing 2-0 with 21 minutes to play, only for a magnificent breakway goal by Nacer Chadli in the fourth minute of injury-time to cap a stunning fightback.

England takes on Sweden in Samara at 3pm on Saturday, July 7.

Having overcome Colombia on penalties in the last 16, England manager Gareth Southgate will probably feel his decision to field a second-string side against Belgium has been vindicated. Any repeat would take some of the gloss of what should be the flawless showcase for the world's most expensive player.

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