Russias tournament is over after overcome by Croatia on disadvantages but appreciation for a team who shattered all possibilities survives
Before football comes home, it had to stop by the beach. Russia fans had one last chance on Sunday night to bask a squad that had already smashed all their expectancies for this tournament. And they did it again in a bittersweet valedictory in Vladimir Putin’s dream city by the sea.
All the best stories are comings-of-age, and Russia seemed to grow with each equal, learning a sceptical public that it was OK to believe again, that they wouldn’t unexpectedly flusters them, that this time things would be different.
It left pretty much everyone here questioning the same question: where on earth did this surface received from? Pressing a more gifted Croatia squad, region in sublime curlers from 25 grounds , nodding in equalisers in the 115 th instant?
” Guys! I am proud of you! I love you! Savour this moment !” hollered striker Artem Dzyuba in a fiery communication that mirrored a nation’s spirits just before Russia went out on penalty kicks.
Long before that instant, high up in the stands, fans were starting to believe too.
” Cheryshev hit that one like Ronaldo !” said Semyon, 23, who was still marvelling over the left winger’s wonder-strike as he grabbed snacks at half-time.” Oh my God, could you see he could do that ?”
” I consider England must be worried about facing us ,” said Anton Sashnikov, planning for the semi-final friction that is likely wasn’t to be.” Our guys are playing with ferocity, they actually want to acquire. I don’t think that England will be able to keep up .”
There is more in common between the England and Russia fan than either would like to admit, a complex that comes down to the simple impression that somebody at some time is going to lose his follower or shank a penalty. Both have found redemption in this year’s World Cup.
” And from there it’s just one more competitor and we are the champions ,” Sashnikov said and he smiled, as though daring a reporter to tell him that wasn’t likely.
Saturday’s match was the reason many parties bother goes to football. If you gazed up the Fifa positions, there was no question who should have won. But eventually it came down to an issue of slight slants and scoots of momentum, and the tears that came after Russia’s heartbreaking loss were more about annoyance than condemnation.