Croatia have multiple injury concerns heading into Wednesday's clash in Moscow, with right-back Sime Vrsaljko the main worry due to a knee injury, while goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was also hurt against Russian Federation in the quarter-finals.
Desolation and dreams of what might have been littered the path out of Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow, as supporters trudged towards the metro and into the night.
This is the first time the two sides have met at the World Cup, and it is a long time coming for both.
The first half of Wednesday's game had Croatia lagging behind 0-1 after a goal from England's Kevin Trippier only five minutes in.
But place in the World Cup final against France was not to be.More news: The Peter Strzok fiasco wrecks the GOP’s bogus conspiracy theory
The only finalists not to have faced a knockout match against a top 15 side in the past 7 World Cups are Italy, who took on home nation Germany, then ranked 19th by Federation Internationale de Football Association, in the 2006 semi-final.
"They haven't been there for 28 years".
"There's no out and out stars and everybody just looks at them as young lads, making their way out, they've not got above their station. We picked it up in the first half of extra time, but after that, when they got that last goal, they dominated completely", he said.
"We blew our chances", 17-year-old Josh Ogunde said after watching the 2-1 semi-final defeat with friends near Trafalgar Square in central London as the disappointed crowds streamed home.
But Andy Bradley, 42, from Hull, felt the team had done the nation proud.More news: Kylie Jenner trolled after Forbes names her 'self-made' billionaire
It prompted a glowing assessment from Mourinho, who added: "It's a great achievement for a country where the league is a minor league and the majority of the players don't player in Croatia but overseas". Should they hold on, the Three Lions will take on France in the final on Sunday.
"We take it on the chin, we move on".
"The atmosphere for every game has been unbelievable, and as we've progressed through the tournament it's only got better".
"Until five or six years ago I was bit vain, and in a way glad that in 1998 we set the bar so high that it was hard to even contemplate, let alone jump over it".
"1998 will never be forgotten and should not be, but I would love it if eventually the 1998 "Fiery Ones" can be moved aside so that we can talk not only about 1998 but also a bit about 2018", the former Real Madrid player said.More news: England manager Gareth Southgate reflects on World Cup exit
"This was the dream, we could've made it, we could have done it". Our physical performance coach has tried to keep refreshing the warm-ups for the players and keep them stimulated.