World Cup semis kick off Tuesday with all European teams for fifth time ever

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France’s Kylian Mbappe, right, and Antoine Griezmann celebrate after Raphael Varane, center scored his side’s first goal during the quarterfinal match between Uruguay and France at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

The World Cup semifinal stage is beginning with the all-European lineup being celebrated by soccer’s governing body on the continent.

Belgium and France play in St. Petersburg on Tuesday and then Croatia and England meet the following night in Moscow.

It is the fifth time the last four has featured only European teams.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says “even though some of our traditional contenders such as Germany, Spain and Portugal were eliminated, there are other teams which have surpassed expectations and can now win the title.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, Ceferin added “these results validate all the work that is being done across the continent to develop football, and they also showcase the strength and quality that exists across the whole UEFA region.”

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