By Jonathan Evans
10 July, 2018

People following the 2018 FIFA World Cup have witnessed some very surprising results. Teams thought to have a good chance of winning, like Germany, Portugal and Brazil, have been ousted from the competition.

This year, it is the underdog teams that have made the World Cup exciting to watch. And on Wednesday, one team from a country with just over 4 million people will try to make history.

Croatia will play England in Moscow for a chance to reach its first World Cup final. It will be only the second time Croatia's football team has competed at this level of play.

Croatia's Domagoj Vida, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goalduring the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup.
Croatia's Domagoj Vida, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goalduring the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup.

The Croatian team played in its first World Cup semi-final match in 1998. It lost to the eventual champion France. Croatia won all three of its group games at this year's World Cup. Its best performance was a 3-0 victory over Argentina. However, the Croatian team did not win as easily in their matches against Denmark and Russia. Both of those games ended with penalty shootouts. The shootout victory over Denmark was Croatia's first ever.

Croatia has played England seven times. England has four wins, two losses and one tie against Croatia. The teams have not met since qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. In those matches, England won 4-1 in Zagreb and 5-1 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic spoke to the Associated Press about the World Cup semi-final game on Wednesday. He said, "It won't be easy for us. We will look for the best solutions ahead of the match, considering we have a few players with minor issues after the match against Russia."

The final match of the 2018 World Cup will be played on Sunday, July 15.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Jonathan Evans wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from the Associated Press, BBC News and Fansided. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in this Story

underdog – n. a person or team that is expected to lose a competition or battle

shootout - n. a competition that is used to decide the winner at the end of a tie game by giving each team a set number of chances to shoot the ball into the goal

semi-final – adj. the next to last event in a competition

qualify – v. to narrow down; to pass a test for a special purpose