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Russia faces up to its future

FIFA World Cup
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Croatia's resilience propels them into semifinals

World Cup 2018
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Russia have gone from big bear to underdog

Russia
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Russia's Igor Akinfeev finally proving critics wrong

Russia
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Who is the best shootout keeper left in Russia?

FIFA World Cup
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World Cup scouting spotlight: Moussa Wague, Rodrigo Bentancur, Mario Fernandes

Julien Laurens takes issue with ESPNFC.com's omission of France's N'Golo Kante in their World Cup team of the tournament.

The World Cup boosted the profiles of several known stars like Kylian Mbappe but what about the next wave hoping to use Russia 2018 as a springboard into the next phases of their career? Matt Stanger scouts three such under-the-radar talents who acquitted themselves well this summer.

Moussa Wague, DF, KAS Eupen/Senegal

Wague is an attacking full-back whose performances in Russia should earn him a move to a bigger European league.
Wague is an attacking full-back whose performances in Russia should earn him a move to a bigger European league.

In this age of information, it's rare to see genuine unknowns emerge as potential stars at the World Cup. Moussa Wague is one such example, however, with few having heard...

With the World Cup party over, Russia faces up to its future

The FC guys answer your tweets about the controversies in the World Cup final, Paul Pogba's performance and where the 2018 World Cup ranks all time.
With the World Cup final looming, ESPN's Charlie Gibson travels around searching for fans from all 32 nations.

MOSCOW -- It hardly caused a ripple in the news cycle when, on Tuesday, football returned to Russia as quickly as it had left.

The second-tier Football National League began its 2018-19 season fewer than 48 hours after the end of the World Cup and, amid a sprawling list of competitors that spans the breadth of the country, one name stuck out in particular.

PFC Sochi had never played an official match before, not in this guise anyway: They came about when Dinamo St. Petersburg moved 1,500 miles south...

Russia's Denis Cheryshev scores stunner but defensive failings cost World Cup hosts

Denis Cheryshev got Russia out to a dream start versus Croatia, but it wasn't mean to be as the hosts bow out on penalties.
Croatia may have just edged past hosts Russia in a penalty shootout, but ESPN FC's Craig Burley says to expect much more in the semis.
The guys respond to your tweets about the challenge of penalties, Subasic's heroics, England's chances, the song "Three Lions" and Roberto Martinez.

Russia's World Cup fairy tale came to an end in Sochi. A team that started its home tournament as the lowest side in the FIFA ranking came within a penalty shootout of a semifinal.

Positives

The hosts looked brave from the start, refusing to sit deep and defend with 10 men behind the ball as they did in the round of 16 against Spain. It paid off: Croatia's set-up was offensive and turned out to be vulnerable to Russia's counter-attacks.

Negatives

Defensive fragility was evident once again. Russia...

Croatia's resilience propels them past Russia and on to the semifinals

Croatia may have just edged past hosts Russia in a penalty shootout, but ESPN FC's Craig Burley says to expect much more in the semis.
The guys respond to your tweets about the challenge of penalties, Subasic's heroics, England's chances, the song "Three Lions" and Roberto Martinez.

SOCHI, Russia -- It's not about getting knocked down. It's about getting back up and treating triumph and disaster, both impostors, just the same. If both Little League coaches and Rudyard Kipling agree, then you can be pretty sure there's more than a grain of truth in it.

For all its talent and experience, this Croatia team has had its nose busted open plenty of times. Right back down to the last game, against Denmark, when Luka Modric's late penalty miss shifted the momentum Dane-ward, and...

Russia's World Cup party ends in penalty shootout heartbreak, Croatia set up for England clash

Russia fought valiantly, but saw their World Cup dreams dashed as Ivan Rakitic and Croatia won 4-3 on penalties to set up a semifinal showdown with England.
Croatia may have just edged past hosts Russia in a penalty shootout, but ESPN FC's Craig Burley says to expect much more in the semis.
The guys respond to your tweets about the challenge of penalties, Subasic's heroics, England's chances, the song "Three Lions" and Roberto Martinez.

SOCHI - Three quick points on Russia 2-2 (after extra time, Croatia win 4-3 on penalties) Croatia in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

1. Croatia march on to World Cup semifinals 

Give me a screamer from Denis Cheryshev. Give me Mario Mandzukic on the rampage, setting up an equaliser for Andrej Kramaric. Give me Ivan Perisic rattling the post and Luka Modric quarterbacking like Nick Foles. Give me Sergei Ignashevich turning back the clock and Igor Akinfeev turning away shots. Give me...

By the numbers: Back-to-back shootout wins for Croatia, record penalty saves for Subasic

ESPN brings you the best of the numbers from Croatia's dramatic penalty shootout win over Russia in the World Cup quarter-finals.


2

Croatia are just the second team to win successive shootouts in World Cup history, emulating Argentina's feat in 1990, when the latter won shootouts against Yugoslavia and Italy in the quarters and the semis, respectively. Croatia are also just the second team to advance through two back-to-back World Cup knockout games after trailing. Italy was the last team to...