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World Cup player watch: One step away

The latest on what the players at the World Cup have been up to as the semi-finals beckon.

The first of the World Cup semi-finals is upon us, with either France or Belgium set to advance to the final when they meet on Tuesday evening.

England and Croatia’s fate will be decided 24 hours later when they face off in Moscow.

Here is what players from all four teams have been doing and saying ahead of their crunch clashes.

France

France last reached the World Cup final in 2006, suffering penalty-shootout heartache at the hands of Italy. However, it is not all doom-and-gloom for Les Bleus as they recorded victory on home soil in 1998.

And the players are eyeing the chance to win a second crown on Sunday.

#FRABEL 🇫🇷🇧🇪 💪🏼

A post shared by Nabil Fekir (@nabilfekir) on

Belgium

Belgium are hoping to make history by reaching their first World Cup final, having made the semi-finals on one previous occasion in 1986 – finishing in fourth place overall.

However, the players are determined to rewrite the history books.

Eyes on the prize. @belgianreddevils #REDTOGETHER

A post shared by Michy Batshuayi (@mbatshuayi) on

Croatia

Croatia have reached the last four on one occasion – in 1998 – and they have the chance to create national history with a maiden final appearance.

And Zlatko Dalic’s side seem relaxed ahead of the crunch match.

🙏🇭🇷

A post shared by 🤔 Super]Kralj[tata]BroZ 🤔 (@marcelo_brozovic) on

Manager Dalic and defender Dejan Lovren faced the media after arriving in Moscow.

Dejan Lovren during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium
Dejan Lovren during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium (Aaron Chown/PA)
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium (Aaron Chown/PA)

England

This will be England’s third appearance at the semi-final stage of the World Cup and their first in 28 years. It was not to be in 1990 as the Three Lions fell to a shootout defeat to West Germany.

However, 1966 will spark belief that Gareth Southgate’s team can bring home their second World Cup title.

Harry Kane plays with a rubber chicken during the training session at the Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium
Harry Kane plays with a rubber chicken during an England training session (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The feared chicken 🐓👹 Good spirits in training this morning! #ready

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England players play with a rubber chicken during the training session at the Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium
England players play with a rubber chicken during a training session (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Goalkeeper Jack Butland had a secret message to the England fans as the goalkeepers trained in Repino before flying to Moscow…

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the training session at the Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the training session (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Jordan Henderson and Gareth Southgate met the media and had a look at the Luzhniki Stadium pitch.

Jordan Henderson speaks during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Jordan Henderson speaks during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (Aaron Chown/PA)
England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (Aaron Chown/PA)
England manager Gareth Southgate, left, and Jordan Henderson during the walkabout at the Luzhniki Stadium
England manager Gareth Southgate, left, and Jordan Henderson during the walkabout at the Luzhniki Stadium (Aaron Chown/PA)

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