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Croatia Falls Short In 2018 World Cup, But Given Heroes' Welcome Back Home

By John Carlo A. Villaruel
on Jul 17, 2018 08:31 AM EDT
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The Croatian football team received a heroes' welcome following their brilliant performance in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Croatia who finished second in the tournament was welcomed with cheers on Monday in Zagreb despite an agonizing 4-2 loss to France in the World Cup final. The second place finish of Croatia also marked the greatest success in the country's sporting history.

Defender Dejan Lovren admits that he still feels the pain of their loss to France but the Liverpool star reiterated that he is proud of what they have accomplished. Prior to this year's tournament, Croatia's best finish in the World Cup was third in 1998.

"Maybe after a couple of months I will have everything straight. It's hard now as I am some moments sad and some moments happy. Overall, I am proud," Lovren explained.

The Croatian football squad was escorted by air force jets as their plane returned from Russia. Croatia was the smallest country to reach the World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950.

Unity In Croatia

Following the arrival of their football team, the state railway companies of Croatia decided to cut the ticket prices to give fans a chance to travel into Zagreb. In addition, the city authorities also made public transportation free on Monday.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic praised Croatia's sterling finish in the World Cup, citing that the victory meant a lot for the unity of Croatians. The country was awarded its independence from the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

Grabar-Kitarovic hopes that Croatia's finish would pave the way for the country's economic development. Despite being a member of the European Union, the economy of Croatia remains weak, which in turn resulted in many people leaving the country to look for a better future elsewhere.

A Miracle Run By Croatia

Deadspin journalist Patrick Redford described Croatia's World Cup run as a miracle, saying that the Croatians had all the talents to outmuscle established soccer teams. Croatia became just the 13th country to make it into the World Cup final.

Redford added that only football superpowers such as France, The Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Argentina have the capabilities to make it into the World Cup final. Surprisingly, it's been more than 50 years since there was a final that didn't feature the aforementioned seven nations.

Throughout the history of the World Cup, underdogs such as the 1994 Bulgarian team, 1998 Croatian squad and the 2002 South Korean team have made long runs in the World Cup. However, none of those teams had the potential to beat the World Cup powerhouses. Earlier in this tournament, Croatia blanked Argentina 3-0.

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