Make Croatians like Russians

Losing to Croatia : Putin consoled Russia in love

The loudest is the sea. A light wind has come up, it is blowing on the beach promenade and pushing the waves against the quay wall. Music is usually booming from loudspeakers here, but nobody is in the mood for partying in those early hours of Sunday. The procession moves in silence through Sochi at night. From the Fischt Stadium down the Olympisky Prospect, past closed bars and restaurants. Quiet conversations are held, where in the early evening loud “Rossija! Rossija! ”- shouts could be heard. The Russian football fairy tale came to an end on Saturday. Without the last two chapters, which should still be added in the final week of the World Cup.

Russia's national soccer team has made an appointment for the World Cup. In all honor, in the quarter-finals after a penalty shoot-out against Croatia. It's not like twelve years ago, when people in Germany who had never been interested in football before fell into a partial depression after losing to Italy in the semi-finals. No despair, just a little sadness that it's over. You would have liked to have been there a little longer and are still very satisfied with the way a group of men hardly known beyond Russia represented their homeland before the eyes of the world. There are no riots, no whistles.

Russia got intoxicated on itself

In Moscow, tens of thousands hope to see the end of the fan festival on the grounds of Lomonosov University, but for the first time since a Russian World Cup game there are no motorcades in the city center. In Sochi the applause for the losers is friendly, but the stadium empties quickly. For four weeks Russia was intoxicated with itself, on the night of Sochi now only the sea rushes.

Stanislaw Tschertschessow looks as composed in the defeat as after the most recent victories, which he did not celebrate excessively. Of course, the Russian coach is asked if the president was there, in the stadium and in the dressing room. No, says Cherchessov, “but the Prime Minister Medvedev was with us at the moment. Unfortunately, I couldn't talk to him because I didn't have time. And President Putin called “before and after the game. "He congratulated us and said we should look ahead and take the next step."

Later that night, Putin's spokesman Dimitri Peskov reported via Interfax that the Russian team had "lost in an honest and beautiful game". Russia can be proud of its players, “they are heroes. They died in the field ”. It can be a bit martial after all.

Trainer is good because it is authentic PR

Stanislav Tschertschessow, however, has not used the nationalist keyboard once in the past few weeks. For years no one has done such good PR for Russia, because it seems authentic, as this funny man with the bald head and huge mustache. When asked what he and his team achieved at the World Cup, he said after a moment's reflection: “We have turned the country upside down, we are delighted. I think all of Russia has fallen in love with us. "
That was more than expected after the very modest results in preparation.

Tschertschessow also hadn't really known where his team was before the opening game. The fact that she then scored five goals against Saudi Arabia and another three in the second game against Egypt sparked the unexpected affection of the compatriots for the football players who were not even smiled at before. A love affair turned out to be a week ago, after the sensational victory in the round of 16 over Spain. It's a little tragic that the Russians had to say goodbye after what was probably their best World Cup game.

The round of 16 against the oppressively superior Spaniards was a defensive battle without a single shot on goal out of the game. But the Russians played against Croatia. They were better in the first half, conceded a stupid goal and made a great comeback in extra time when the Croatians thought they were in the semifinals after their second goal. After the late compensation by Mario Fernandes, the Russians made a noise among the 44,000 spectators that might have roused their Georgian neighbors a few kilometers further southeast.

Russians were not up to the game of nerves

And the penalty shootout? A game of nerves that the Russians were no longer able to cope with after the intense 120 minutes. In the night, Cherchessov tells how he scuttled across the lawn in search of shooters and got stuck with Roman Sobnin, the Spartak Moscow midfielder. "I asked him: 'Roman, do you want to shoot?" He looked at me as if he didn't even know where he was. "

Sobnin could have been the Russian equivalent of Christoph Kramer. About the German national player, who clashed with an Argentine at the 2014 World Cup final in Rio, continued playing with a concussion and at some point asked the referee whether this was the World Cup final. Kramer and the Germans got their happy ending, Sobnin and the Russians didn't.

All information about the World Cup can be found in our live blog.

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