MOSCOW, July 11. /TASS/. Team France has become the first finalist of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and will face the winner of the England vs. Croatia semifinal due on Wednesday.
In the first semifinal match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, played on Tuesday night in Russia’s St. Petersburg, the French national football team defeated Belgium 1-0 to become the first team to vie for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.
The only goal in the game was scored after the teams'15-minute mid-time break with a thunderous shot on the speed from a corner kick of French defender Samuel Umtiti.
The match at the over 68,000-seat capacity Saint Petersburg Arena saw an attendance of some 64,286, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, French President Emmanuel Macron as well as King Philippe of Belgium with his spouse Queen Mathilde. The list of football fans being present in Saint Petersburg for the match between France and Belgium saw a host of celebrities including legendary rock star Mick Jagger from 'Rolling Stones' and Hollywood film star Pamela Anderson.
The World Cup final will take place at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on July 15. The match for the third place will be held on July 14 in St. Petersburg.
So far, England’s only semifinal took place in 1966, during the domestic tournament. On July 30, 1966 the team defeated West Germany 4:2 at London’s Wembley Stadium in London.
Croatia’s highest-ever World Cup achievement is third place at the 1998 World Cup in France.
In their quarterfinal matches on Saturday night, England defeated Sweden 2:0 and Croatia knocked out Russia with the 4-3 penalty shootout win following 2-2 draw in the regular and 30-minute overtime period.
Between the games, Team Croatia trained at a field of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex, while England trained in St. Petersburg.
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic believes that the present-day team is at least not weaker than it used to be in the 1998.
"The Croatian team has very good players. I believe that the generation of our players was underestimated for too long, but they were able to demonstrate their best qualities during this World Cup. They will remain in the football history as the generation of strong players," Dalic said.
On Monday, the world’s governing football body, FIFA, imposed a fine of 15,000 Swiss francs on Croatian team’s coaching staff assistant Ognjen Vukojevic for his conduct after the victory over Russia. In a video clip, which was recorded after the match in the Croatian team’s locker room and later circulated on social networks, Croatia’s defender Domagoj Vida yells "Glory to Ukraine," while Vukojevic adds that he dedicates that victory over Russia to the people of Ukraine.
Following the incident with the video footage, the Croatian Football Federation (CFF) decided to issue a warning to Vida against such behavior in the future and stripped Vukojevic of his accreditation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. On Tuesday, the president of the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU), Andrei Pavelko, has offered a job to Vukojevic and offered to compensate for the fine imposed by FIFA.
Vukojevic turned down the request, saying that he does not want to embroil anyone into this controversy and was quite capable of dealing with it by himself.