Alan Shearer World Cup
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Shearer says: “England have a manager and team to be proud of.”

| 13.07.2018

Three Lions legend reflects on World Cup journey

We have to be brave enough to say Croatia were the better team and deserved to go through.

They had a little genius in midfield in Luka Modric, he’s arguably the best in the world in that position. We could not get near him all night and he controlled the game at the pace he wanted to play. Everything he did was superb.

We started the game very well and played well for the first 45 minutes. We got the early goal and we were on the front foot at that point.

Croatia stepped up the pace in the second half. They got everyone 10 yards further up the pitch which allowed Modric to dictate the game.

We are not the first team he has done that to and we won’t be the last.

Kane had a couple of good chances to extend our lead. He went through one-on-one and he wasn’t offside. If we had gone 2-0 up, it would have been a completely different game.

They had a number of chances in the second half though where they hit the post. Ultimately, we did not play well enough to go through to the final.

It has been a great ride. Everyone has loved every minute of it. When you look back at where we were two years ago, we were the laughing stock of European football. We had no system and were embarrassed by Iceland.

We now have a manager and team we can be proud of. There is a clear identity and we have all enjoyed watching them. We have far exceeded expectation and they have managed to unite the country.

The experience is going to do them the world of good. I said at the start of this tournament, if this England team gives every ounce of sweat, blood and guts, the country will be happy with that and that is what they have done.

Thousands stayed behind last night to cheer this England team and show their appreciation. Again, compare that to two years ago, Gareth and his team have made giant strides.

Gareth speaks very well, he has made all the right decisions and the country has been right behind him.

We have some young players in England who have won trophies at youth level so the future is definitely bright.

Hopefully some of these players can get an opportunity at their clubs in the next 18 months or so which will help them push towards being selected for Euro 2020.

The squad will now have to prepare for a 3rd/4th place play-off which is a ridiculous game. All the players will want to do now is pack their bags and get on the plane home.

Does it really matter finishing 3rd or 4th? I think is it nonsensical. Gareth will no doubt reward the players who have not had much game time against Belgium.

As for the final, France are the team to beat. Croatia have been to extra-time three times now so they obviously have a great spirit.

When you have a midfield like they have, they are always in with a chance. Modric has been the player of the tournament for me so far.

France though, have everything in their ranks. They have pace, steel and quality. With Kylian Mbappe, they also have the next superstar in the sport, if he isn’t already.

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Alan Shearer

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer is the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals and a leading TV pundit from the BBC's flagship football programme Match of the Day. Euro '96 Golden Boot winner Alan will be sharing his thoughts on all things football every week throughout the 2018/19 season.