2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™


Croatia – If in Russia, the country hosting the 21stFIFA World Cup, we can single out Lev (Leo) Nikolayevich Tolstoy as the symbol of that large nation, then we can also declare that another famous lion – Lev Ivanovich Yashin (1929-1990) is the synonym of Russian football.

Many consider this legendary goalkeeper of Dynamo from Moscow and of the Soviet team the best goalkeeper in the history of the sport. So far, he has been the only goalkeeper awarded with the Ballon d’Or prize (1963). He got his nickname “Black Spider” because he also defended his team’s goal against 150 penalty kicks! He is an embodiment of good sportsmanship.

The Russians were not winning any world cups but their Oleg Salenko went down in the annals with the record breaking five goals in a single game (1994, Russia – Cameroon 6:1).

The main question for Croatia is – what can our team do at this “Championship of Peace“? Answer: it is their time to play a very important role and climb once again to the winner’s podium after 20 years just like they did at the Princes’ Park in 1998.

Our team has been through difficult qualifications (including the typical change of coaches – Zlatko Dali? replacing Ante ?a?i?) and, once again, made it to the finals following a playoff (with the Greek team 1:1 and 0:0)… however, that was the generation of superb players, such as Luka Modri?, Vedran ?orluka, Marijo Mandžuki?, Ivan Rakiti?, Ivan Periši? and Domagoj Vida…at the height of their strength and best shape of their lives. This is the right time to take action.

Croatia will be confronted with several obstacles on its way to the top starting with its group where it will play against ambitious Nigeria, Messi’s Argentina and well-known Iceland (the greatest wonder of contemporary football).

The World Cup favourites are the tournament grandmasters and title defenders, the Germans, the potent and playful French, the kings of combinations, the Spanish, and the unpredictable, rehabilitation-seeking Brazilians, five-time champions.

What is important is that the games will be played in the vastest country, Russia, in the spirit of peace-loving Lev Yashin.

Miro Rede,
Sports Journalist