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Ten things we learned from the final round of World Cup group games

Croatia have impressed the most, the fairplay rule isn’t fair and Africa hits a modern low at the tournament

Gareth Southgate’s team is now in the “easier” half of the draw and everyone with an England shirt on can plot a route to the last four or, if you’re feeling really optimistic and totally blind to the country’s record on the big stage, the final itself. ‘Well played lads’ screamed the headline on the front page of The Sun, after an understrength England side lost 1-0 against Belgium to avoid a quarter-final with Brazil. This is the same nation that has won two knockout matches at major tournaments – against Denmark and Ecuador – since Stuart Pearce tucked away that penalty against Spain at Euro 1996. Colombia, for the record, were quarter-finalists four years ago and they’ve won six of their last eight World Cup games. Be careful what you wish for. Stuart James

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