In today’s blog, we will talk about the soccer World Cup that took place in Russia in 2018, and how it looked from the eyes of a Croat.
The championship for Croatia started on 16 June 2018 with a match against Nigeria, which we won 2-0. What followed was an incredible match against Argentina, who we defeated with a score of 3-0. After Argentina, we also beat Iceland 2-1. Croatia finished the group stage with 3 wins and the maximum number of points.
In the round of 16, in a difficult match against Denmark, we managed to go through on penalties. In Croatia after that match, it was felt that this championship was going to be big… that something special was going to happen…
After Denmark, we had a tough match against the host Russia. We went to penalties again. Those two games shortened my life by some 5-10 years, but that was just the beginning.
England was waiting for us in the semi-finals. The euphoria in Croatia reached its peak and the whole country knew that there was absolutely no chance of us losing that game.
The match started badly for Croatia, we conceded a goal from a free kick already in the 5th minute… but in the second half we managed to equalise and the match went to extra time. In the 109th minute, Mario Mandžukić scored to make it 2-1 and led CROATIA to the WORLD CUP FINAL.
Unfortunately, we lost the final, but our football players were welcomed as champions. 550,000 people, or 12% of the entire population of Croatia, gathered on the streets of the capital Zagreb. Togetherness, happiness and pride in the eyes of every Croat were never greater than in those days.
Four years have passed since then, but winning over England and entering the final of the most important tournament in the world is still the best day of my life and I will proudly tell the children all the emotions we experienced then.
Small country, big dreams!