THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Monday, July 9, 2018
ON THE MEND Counting injury time, Croatia will have played the equivalent of roughly four matches in 11 days by the end of its semi-final against England - even if it doesn't go to extra time again. The Croats are licking their wounds after defeating Denmark and Russia in successive shootouts.
Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic appeared to tweak his hamstring against Russia, which kept him from taking goal kicks by the end of the match. Starting right back Sime Vrsaljko had to be replaced during extra time because of an apparent leg injury, although fellow defender Dejan Lovren was optimistic on Sunday that Vrsaljko would be able to play with the semi-final looming on Wednesday.
CROWD SUPPORT Russia's players and coach addressed a crowd of their newfound fans on Sunday in Moscow, a day after getting eliminated by Croatia in a shootout.
The national team's unexpected run to the quarter-finals sparked a surge of support from fans who had been mostly indifferent before the World Cup started. By the knockout stage, supporters were chanting "Roosee-ah!" at stadiums where the team wasn't even playing. Now that the home team is finally out, will its fans - who have filled most of the seats throughout the tournament - pick a favourite from the semi-finalists, or go back to treating soccer with a shrug?
ROAD WARRIORS After returning from their Friday quarter-finals in Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, respectively, France and Belgium worked out at their Moscow-area training bases on Sunday before heading to St. Petersburg for their Tuesday night semi-final. Russia is a big country. By the time they get back to Moscow again, France will have racked up about 2,100 kilometres and Belgium will have gone about 2,700 kilometres in about five days.
At this stage of the tournament, there are only four days between matches. Both squads are deep and are dealing with relatively few injuries, though Belgium will be missing defender Thomas Meunier, who picked up his second yellow card for tripping Neymar in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Brazil.
4 By the end of its semifinal against England on Wednesday, Croatia will have played the equivalent of 4 matches in 11 days, counting injury time - even if the England game doesn't go to added time.
4,800 By the time France and Belgium return to their Moscow training bases after their Tuesday night semi-final, the two sides will have combined to rack up approximately 4,800 kilometres of travel over the course of the tournament. With Russia being the largest country in the world geographically, France will have travelled roughly 2,100 km since arriving, while Belgium will have covered about 2,700 km.