England and Belgium to win

Thomas Vermaelen considers Belgium to be genuine World Cup title contenders

Thomas Vermaelen considers Belgium to be genuine World Cup title contenders

How good is Croatia's football team?

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

Belgians tasted bitterness in their beer on Tuesday after their dreams of a first World Cup final were ended by the narrowest of margins by their bigger French neighbors.

For sports science student Laura De Lange, 20, it was a story of failing to take chances from superior possession: "We really believed, after Brazil we thought we'd beat the French and get to the final and we're really disappointed", she said.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin called Macron to congratulate him on France's victory.

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"I was 18 years old in 1998, it was one of the most attractive nights of my life".

Thousands of football fans have flooded the streets of Paris after France won their match against Belgium to secure a place in the World Cup final against the victor of England's game tomorrow.

"We're going to the final, we're going to the final", scores chanted in one central Paris bar before breaking out into an impromptu rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem.

"Personally, I don't think I played as well as I should have but the team were resilient, defended well and dominated the game".

"We owe them a lot of thanks as well for the way they have supported us".

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"We don't do everything right but of course there is a progression. It was hard to take two years ago, and we do not want a repeat of that".

France's players danced on the field after the final whistle and their fans sang in the stands long past the end of the match, surrounded by yellow-clad security. "We already managed a set piece like this in the quarterfinals, it worked perfectly".

"I didn't feel nervous or anything like that". It is in the knockout rounds that I hit my stride, though, and I hope to continue like this.

The terrifying ordeal that the trapped young Thai footballers went through before their dramatic rescue has put the World Cup in perspective for a couple of the sport's stars.

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