If you’ve been doing what the rest of the world has been doing for the past month, of course you do! The World Cup in Russia put Croatia back on the map as their football warriors took second place after playing a thrilling final against France.
For 20 years, since the 1998 generation took a beating from (again!) France in the semi finals and returned home with a bronze medal, Croatian world-class football has been dormant, regaining its strenght and grooming a new league of creative, ballsy and skilled pairs of legs. This generation of star-studded sportsmen, leading with Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic who until recently played with Christiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid, Dean Lovren, Liverpool’s charger, as well as two great midfielders, Marcelo Brozovic playing for Inter and Ivan Rakitic in Barcelona, was not announced as one of the favourits to win the cup. Soon enough, coming on top of their group, game after game the team showed incredible strength, not only because of its famous players, but because of their incredible passion and will. Their „southern mentality“ didn’t let them down even when facing three 120-minute games, two of which going into penalties, and beating England in the semi finals to face off France in Moskow last Sunday.
Even though the Croatian team lost in, what most football fans call „the most action packed final in the World Cup history“, with a special showing from Pussy Riot, whos members ran on to the field in the second half, their silver medal was cause for a huge, and I mean HUGE, celebration on the streets of Zagreb, Zadar, Split, …
On Monday, only a day after the finals, over half of a million people cheered for hours in the streets of Zagreb to welcome their heros! The celebration continued, and as it seems now, won’t stop so soon, in all of Croatia, as many players from the coast arrive to their home towns. Sime Vrsaljko, Danijel Subasic, Luka Modric and Domagoj Livakovic arrived to their beloved Zadar on a huge, red and white checkered boat, surrounded by fans on and in the sea. Their coach, Zlatko Dalic, who did a miracle in joining together these incredibly players and forming a well-oiled team, was greeted all over Croatia and is still awaiting the biggest party of them all – in his birth town of Livno in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Since the World Cup was smacked right in the middle of Croatia’s tourist season, many football fans supported their teams on the streets of Croatia’s coastal cities and, as each of their teams got knocked out, became great fans of Croatia’s national team. Once again sports have put Croatia back on the map and this win, althoough silver, will surely mean a gold summer season all over the beautiful Adriatic sea!