Before the start of this World Cup, there was a team who has a FIFA ranking of 20. And their best success in the World Cup was reaching the semi-final 20 years ago. We suspect if there was a maximum list of favorites for this World Cup whether they would consider or not. Nevertheless, that team is now in the final of this World Cup. What else could be the biggest surprise for this ultra-surprise pack World Cup!
Actually, I don’t need to mention the name of that team but have to do so as formalities. Yes, I’m talking about Croatia, the biggest wonder of this world cup and a small Balkan nation with just 4.2 million people only.
We will try to show you guys some glorious part of their journey in this World Cup. Let’s take a look.
Group Stage Events:
Croatia was in the Group D and they started their World Cup with a 2-0 win over Nigeria. They were supposed to win against Nigeria, but in the next match, they just demolished Messi’s Argentina by 3-0 goals. In fact, it was an early message of their extreme possibilities. In their last match of the group round, they beat Iceland by 2-0 and confirmed the knockout stage as a group champion with 3 consecutive wins. One more thing, they had become 22-member squad by sending back their striker Nikola Kalinic back to home before the start of the knockout rounds.
Round of 16:
Croatia got the inform Denmark as their opponent in the Round of 16. The scoreline was 1-1 in the first 90 minutes, so it went for an extra 30 minutes show. But there were no further outputs, so the referee called for the tiebreaker. Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic became the hero of his team’s victory by saving 3 excellent shots from the opponent.
Source: Sports Africa
The Great Dramatic Quarter Final:
Croatia’s opponent in the quarter-finals was the host nation Russia. In fact, Russia’s on-field performance was more surprising than their gossips about reaching the quarter-final. However, the host Russia took the lead in the first half as well. Later in the second half, Croatia scored an equalizer and the first 90 minutes finished with an equal scoreline of 1-1. So, the extra 30 minutes came to play.
Source: Sporting News
Then, in the last 10 minutes of that extra 30 minutes, Croatia and Russia respectively scored one goal each. Again, the tiebreaker came as the decider for the match. Once again, the name of the winning team was Croatia. After a long 20 years, the little Balkan country confirms their second ever semi-finals.
Croats were quite tired of playing two back-to-back 120-minute matches before the semifinal. Due to this tiredness, the British media and the England team were keeping themselves ahead of the match. Not only that, the British media started their own slogan “It’s Coming Home” by ensuring their advance success in the semi-final. Even at the beginning of the match, England took the lead by Kieran Trippier’s incredible free kick. But when the name of the opponent is Croatia and they have world-class heroes like Modric-Rakitic-Mandzukic in the team, then you can expect something out of the ordinary from them.
Source: The Australian
And that’s happened exactly the same. In the second half, the English lost their lead in the 68th minute after being attacked by Modric-Rakitic’s side on random occasions. It seems like that Croatia have pre-planned to play another 120 minutes game as they did in their previous two matches. At the end of scheduled 90 minutes time score-board stands for 1-1.
Croatia got another 30 minutes to do something extraordinary. Obviously, they did so. In the 19th minute of that extra 30, Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic scored the decider goal of the match and took his team to the Final of World Cup for the very first time in their history.
Croatia’s biggest star of all time Davor Suker got astonished as well by his team’s performance like any others. After the semi-final, he tweets, “It looks absolutely absurd, but that’s true, Croatia is in the final, you guys make the little country really proud.”
Source: DNA India
It’s really surprising to see Croatia in the final. However, they have France as their opponent in the final, who is literally the most powerful team in this World Cup. So it is difficult to say where the dreams of the Croats will end. In fact, it’s really difficult to predict anything about Croatia after considering the strength of the opposition. They have already proved it very well. So, only 15th July’s Luzhniki Stadium can decide the last smiling or crying scenarios for the Croats.