Well, that was painful. Croatia have eliminated England from the 2018 World Cup after beating the Three Lions 2-1 after extra time at the semi final stage, and they will meet France in the final on Sunday.

Usually, an England elimination from a major tournament is followed up by a sharp search to find a scapegoat for what's gone wrong. Someone to blame. We've had current England boss Gareth Southgate in Euro 96, David Beckham in 1998, Phil Neville at Euro 2000, David Seaman in 2002, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006, Steve McClaren...you get the point. 

Raheem Sterling's in there too for buying his mum something, probably.

With this tradition in mind, we've (okay, I've) attempted to get ahead of the curve before everybody really decides who it is with a definitive list of ratings for who is actually to blame for the elimination. There's an uncomfortable silence on this front at the moment. 

So please sit back and relax, and take solace in this journey into the familiar territory of England dropping out of a major tournament.

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20) Loris Karius

Blame Rating: 1/10

Seems to be to blame for everything at the moment, so I'm gonna shoehorn him in there.

Beautiful man, though. Watch his Instagram video with Baywatch music.

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18=) Panama


Blame Rating: 2/10

Beat 'em 6-1. Banged them out. Responsible for the beginning of the wave of believing a little too much that football was coming home.

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18) Sweden


Blame Rating: 2/10

For carrying zero attacking threat and being the team England beat to get through to the last four. False sense of security much?

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17) Me

Blame Rating: 2.5/10

Bet £20 on England to qualify for the final. Probably something to do with it.

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15=) Chris Deeley

Blame Rating: 3/10

Was scheduled to do 90min's live blog for the World Cup final on Sunday, despite his colleagues (again, me, really) insisting he should maybe refrain because England could reach the final, and he would prefer to enjoy it with his friends and with beer.

Then, in the second half, the realisation that England could make the final struck. He wanted to enjoy it, and insisted that he'd find someone else to cover his shift if England held on.

Two minutes later, Croatia scored the equaliser and football was proceeding to divert away from the direction of home. Jinxed it.

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15=) England's Defence

Blame Rating: 3/10


Perisic beat Walker to the ball to equalise, and Stones reacted later than Mandzukic in the lead up to the winner. Yes, both could have defended better, but they've played their hearts out over the last month. If you're thinking about tweeting something, don't. Leave the boys alone.

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13=) Hyde Park & The Lightning Seeds

Blame Rating: 4/10

Tempting fate a bit lads? 

It wasn't the final. It's a round too early to sing that you're winning the thing, and a bit presumptuous to even write a song saying you're going to 'bring football home' before you've done it in front of thousands of people with beers in their hands.

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13) Beer

Blame Rating: 4/10

On that note, wonder how much money people have wasted on buying *extremely cockney accent* the old booze this summer? 

All for throwing it in the air if it's spontaneous, but you're wasting perfectly good alcohol when you do it on purpose. That's not the point.

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12) The Referee


Blame Rating: 5/10

There's always room to blame the officials, as a number of Twitter users pointed out.

Cüneyt Çakır unjustly sent off Nani in 2013 against Real Madrid - yep, still remember that one - but despite the cries of bias in Croatia's favour, the ones who are pointing the finger are wrong this time around. 

He had a decent game.

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11) The Weather


Blame Rating: 5.5/10

Summer, glorious summer. You turned up and England were really good. Then, before the game last night, the sun went away and the temperature dropped. 

Now, England are out. And we're getting thunderstorms, probably.

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9=) The FA

Blame Rating: 6/10


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9=) Harry Kane


Blame Rating: 6/10

Captain. Leader. Bottler. The bloody lad from Spurs didn't do anything again in a semi-final - he's so Spursy. Why is the England skipper a Spurs player? Shouldn't it be Jordan Henderson?

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8) Luka Modric


Blame Rating: 7/10

For being so incredibly good. He didn't score on the night, but give him the Ballon d'Or.

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7) Mario Mandzukic

Blame Rating: 7.5/10

There were many sh*thouses that played against England over the course of the tournament, but this one was the victorious one who actually scored the goal to put them out.

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5=) Ivan Perisic


Blame Rating: 8/10

Mandzukic, Ante Rebic and Modric were outstanding going forward on the night for the eventual winners, but former Manchester United target Ivan Perisic was out of this world good.

He's two footed, agile, quick, clinical and threatening. He scored the first goal after getting in front of Kyle Walker, and then hit the post moments afterwards with a mesmeric step over prior to his shot.

His header then set up Mandzukic for the winner.

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5=) Kieran Trippier


Blame Rating: 8/10

Two reasons here.

1) He scored too early.*

2) Got injured in extra time when all substitutes were used. Left England with ten men when they needed 11. Bad guy. Let the lads down.

*He channelled his inner Beckham and curled in a beautiful free kick with five minutes gone, and set England up for a night that they'll never forget. His set-piece taking throughout the competition was second to none. He was largely responsible for getting to their highest point in the tournament, and contributed in every game.

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4) That Damn Song

Blame Rating: 8.7/10

Second reference to this in the who's to blame list.

"It's coming home" started out as a joke. Then it was not a joke. Then it became a statement of fan-defined fact for some. Again, jinxed it.

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3) Clive Tyldesley, Glenn Hoddle & ITV

Blame Rating: 9/10

Look at that win percentage on ITV compared to BBC.

England wearing white instead of red and the game being shown on channel 3 was always going to precede failure. Then you had Tyldesley's tone of inevitability dominating the pictures as Trippier scored, and Glenn Hoddle complaining of a high foot when Perisic equalised.

Recipe for disaster.

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2) Gareth Southgate


Blame Rating: 9.5/10

For giving a nation hope. For making millions believe. For restoring faith in the England national team. It's your fault Gareth, because you gave England a chance.

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1) The English Press

Blame Rating: 9.8/10

Hey newspapers. 

Maybe after years of pointing the finger at England's players and referees for the team's failings on the pitch, maybe it's actually your fault that you didn't win the whole thing. Take a look at yourselves and reconsider how you report on international football, because you gave Croatia that added motivation to get one over on England - as if they needed any more.

Luka Modric nailed it while speaking to ITV after the game. The pundits and the press rightfully, obviously, made England favourites to reach the final and eventually bring football home because Croatia had gone through extra time and penalties in the two rounds directly before the semi.


Absolutely spot on. Don't plan your way through to the final when there's three games or more before it. Don't tell us Croatia aren't a great side, as you did on ITV news in the aftermath. Take a dose of realism and plan each game as it comes. 

That's what the team - isolated in their own little bubble - did in Russia. They are the heroes. You've still got some lessons to learn.

They don't get a 10/10 though, because they don't deserve a perfect score.