Russia v Croatia Match Review

CAN CONFIRM… a kids size kit is on it’s way in the post because the adult Croatia kits are all, wait for it, SOLD – OUT!


Thrills and spills, little to no sleep and excessive amounts of caffeine, how I am not dead…? My friends, we have adapted. Us football lovers are a new kind of super human, don’t you think?

Another game, another sleepless night as I get in 1 hour of sleep between England v Sweden and Croatia v Russia. 4am comes along and 2 favourites, 2 elite sides who have shone brightly in this tournament are ready to compete for the greatest Trophy on earth. Just let this sink in though, RUSSIA, “the underdogs”, made it this far. HOW GOOD IS THAT? AND HOW GOOD WAS THAT GOAL BY CHERYSHEV?!

Just when you think he had lost control of his footing and the ball, it rolls in the direction of Lovren but then BAM! An unexpected bullet of a shot and into the top right of the netting it goes, NOTHING Subasic can do about it. They is on fire very early on in this game. BUT, settle down Mother Russia, because 8 minutes later, Kramaric comes in with a header, making it 1 – 1 and we’re back to a level headed, yet intense, game.

A chance for Croatia arises again, as Perisic takes control into his own hands (or feet) and shoots towards the bottom left, but causing the ball to dink off the post and skid just along the line of the goals and out again. Around this time is when I threw my phone somewhere around my ‘very dark’ room, I spent another good 10 minutes trying to find it but gave up.

Let’s jump to the 88th minute, shall we? Because Subasic is down and my heart drops along with every single other Croatian supporter. Yet the man stays on, saving Croatia from a heap of threatening attacks to keep it levelled, all on one good leg.

We head into extra time and on the 100th minute, Luka Modric with a threatening corner and a header by VVIIIDDDAAAA! (I silently screamed his name just like that so I didn’t wake the household up). Croatia take the lead! 2 – 1! OUR HEARTS HAVE STARTED UP AGAIN! But our hearts also feel for the underdogs as deep down inside, I ‘really’ wanted Russia to win this but also, how can you deny Croatia who have just been amazing this whole time. If anyone deserves it, it’s them.

107th minute, Subasic loses the ball and is down again, the pain is becoming too much for the Croatian goalkeeper but yet again, he does not budge, staying on the field the whole time and ignoring the pain in his right leg. Within seconds he’s punching out a corner by Russia and then saving another threatening shot by Kuziaev! The pressure keepers put on their bodies is beyond any other player on the field, the way they move, twist, turn, dive and land, use the strength in their legs to spring up for a save a shot, is almost superhuman. I can only imagine the pain Subasic is in, trying not to put too much pressure on his right leg so he can remain in the game and see this through.

Croatia are only minutes away from winning it, when on the 115th minute, Fernandes rescuers Russia with a header that brings every single Russian in the arena to their feet! A smooth free kick which lead to a crisp header!

A rollercoaster of emotions and passion from both sides, it’s not over yet and they’re taking it all the way to penalties! The voice my my head going “Oh good God, please no…” But the voice in my heart is going “F*** YEAH MOTHER RUSSIA, the underdogs! Take it all the way, lads!” The pressure has hit the roof, scratch that, it’s hit the roof, made a decent sized hole and is heading towards the clouds! This is going to be another set of penalties for Croatia, another life and death sort of situation for the Balkan side. But it is also a second shot for Russia to take down yet, ANOTHER, powerhouse side in this tournament.

It’s about now that I have finally found my phone that I threw earlier on in the match. First up is Russia and I am fearing the worst, Subasic is still in some pain from his last 2 injuries, will he even be able to save properly? Any sudden shift in weight or turn, could damage the keeper for good or stop him from making the saves he needs to win this for his country. But a glimmer of light shines over as Smolov dinks the ball, thinking to confuse the injuried keeper but DENIED! The Croatian keeper has once again DENIED a penalty and there is hope for Croatia. THIS MAN, IS UNSTOPPABLE.

All is going fine and dandy, fun times had by all until it’s Croatia’s turn to kick and Russia’s shot stopper, Akinfeev, says ’NET’ to Kovacic! Drama all around the ground, every step Croatia takes forward, Russia is on their heels! Until the pressure cracks Fernandes and his shot goes wide, (it was about now, I almost threw my phone again, in excitement this time, but realised I don’t have any money to spare to buy a new phone…let alone top up my Opal card so… hold on, Christina)

We move on to Modric, who is the LUCKIEST CROAT TO KICK A FOOTBALL, BECAUSE GOD HELPED THAT BALL GO IN! Hits the post, springs up and around the bar and FINALLY makes it past the line and into the back of the net.

Russia try but it is not enough to recover and the last shot from Ivan Rakatic is just enough for Croatia to take it away. Croatia are in, Russia are out. I run around the house silently screaming. My brother gracefully walks out of his room in his Harry Kane England kit I bought him as a gift, I was thinking he was coming to join me in the excitement. No, He tells me to shut the f*** up and goes back to his “It’s coming home” bandwagon party in his room… such sibling love.

Russia, a round of applause before we step away from this match and ready ourselves for the next. You have hosted an amazing World Cup and played just as well. With such a passion and fight in a national side that I have not seen in a long time, I salute you!

But in the end… Hajde, Hrvatska!


by Christina Trajceska