At the beginning of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, who could have predicted that Croatia would play in the finals? The obstacles were many — the team received a number of yellow cards and faced many penalties — but the underdogs powered through. On Sunday, as the whole world looks on, the country has the chance to create history. Indian football fans too are waiting for the showdown with bated breath.
After a long time, the Europeans are getting to shine in a tournament, in which usually Latin American countries flaunt their might. “The unlikely entry of Croatia into the finals, upsetting the three lions, has put me in a difficult situation when it comes to picking favourites for the finals. On one hand, we have a juggernaut of young talents, who breezed past the likes of Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium. On the other, there are the dark horses who had to fight hard through extra times and penalties to make it to their first ever World Cup final. I look forward to a thriller and hope the best team achieves the ultimate prize,” says Varun Vasudev, a football fan who has been indecisive, considering both the finalists are in impeccable form.
While Kylian Mbappe has been a name of respect and threat on every France fan’s lips, Croatia’s fans have Luca Modric as the feather in their caps. Croatia managed to fight their way in after a long spell of being constantly eliminated at the group stage.
In the hard-earned place after knocking out teams like Russia and England, Croatia are going to use their almost-perfect defence to defend the cup, both on the field and in their hearts.
Debsree Pande, an employee at an advertising firm, agrees, “The best part in the semi-final match was how Croatian players celebrated their second goal, which speaks a lot about their team and the spirit of winning. I couldn’t be more proud of this team and they should hold their heads high. They have created history and given the fans something to believe in. We know there is more to come. I am pretty sure the search on Google must have gone up for Croatia after yesterday’s victory.”
Another Croatian fan has quite a bit to say about the team’s integrity. Smitha Sashidharan, programming head at a radio station, says, “It’s the most unlikely team to make it to the FIFA finals. It is going to be a historic moment for football. Croatia is also a country with a lot of refugees and for them to march to the finals is an inspiring tale for the game.” However, the opposition is not a team that takes threats lightly. Mbappé’s intimidating pace combined with the directness in his game, along with the team’s impeccable form, might just guarantee the World Cup to the French. Mbappé definitely meant it when he said, “I want the World Cup. I want to sleep with it.”
Ritiesh Benedict, a football fanatic and an entrepreneur, explains, “Even though I’m supporting Croatia, I think France will win because they are the youngest team in the tournament. The playing 11 have been with big clubs and they have fast legs as well. They have been improving as the tournament has passed. The goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been in tremendous form.”