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Croatia-France: in the stands of Zagreb, a fervor that we had almost forgotten

With their eyes raised to the sky, the supporters relished the mild weather for the city of Zagreb. Coming to attend the remake of the 2018 World Cup final between Croatia and France (1-2 at the final whistle), the privileged 7,000 allowed to attend the match avoided the rain from the decayed and uncovered stands of the Maksimir stadium.

Two of them were closed due to damage caused by the March 22 earthquake. What to limit the gauge of a public delighted to see the shadows of the nightmares which haunt their nights since July 15, 2018. “We have a revenge to take, even more since the last match at the Stade de France”, has fun Igor. The quadra, a die-hard Manchester United fan, is a little disappointed to see Paul Pogba sitting on the bench at kick-off. But his son stamped his feet from Kylian Mbappé’s first ball catch during warm-up.

“I love him almost a little more than Luka Modric”, the schoolboy smiled shyly. The Croatian captain’s jersey and Golden Ball in 2018 hugged most supporters’ shoulders. The stadium shop was also robbed for a red and white checkered mask. A large part of the public thus wore the colors of the Croatian flag on their faces when entering the enclosure.

A striking contrast with the French atmosphere

Protection much less visible in the forum where respect for social distancing was quite uncertain. At the time when Emmanuel Macron tightened the screw on the French in the face of the wave of contamination in France, the contrast was striking in a country where the Covid epidemic is under control. So the beer and sausage vendors walked quietly through the aisles in front of the Croatian kop, its energetic drums and dizzying songs.

A Croatian heart installed just behind the goal guarded by Hugo Lloris in the first period. The captain of the Blues had to shout out to replace his partners, his voice largely covered by very lively supporters. A fervor that we had almost forgotten after months of confinement, in camera or microscopic gauge in the stages of L1.

What to wear the Croats whose each attack is accompanied by a dull clamor. An energy barely extinguished by Antoine Griezmann’s opening scoring. The joy of being together around a football party was too intense to spoil the evening for a gloomy result. A pleasure also for the French players, frustrated to play in empty stadiums since this summer. “The public pushed them a little bit, we felt their presence,” explains Steven Nzonzi. I think it’s always more enjoyable to play in front of an audience. The audience pushed them a little bit, we felt their presence, and I think it’s always more pleasant to play in front of the audience. “

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