Croatia-France: “Receiving the team that beat us in the World Cup final always has a certain flavor”
The photo of Didier Deschamps holding up the Euro 2000 trophy catches the eye of passers-by strolling down Preradovićeva Street in Zagreb. On the occasion of the match between Croatia and the world champions, the French Embassy is organizing an exhibition devoted to French football at the French institute. The pictures of the 2018 world champions thus rub shoulders with those of 1998 but also of the women or of the youth teams.
“But it was Deschamps who I saw first, how can we not recognize him,” smiles mischievously, as he tells his daughter Macha with precision the names of French icons. Football for us is important and welcoming the team that beat us in the World Cup final always has a certain flavor. Even if this match has less stakes, it is an honor to receive the Blues. “
“Everything was on the floor in the city center”
On the Ban-Jelačić square, where the autumn without tourists gives an impression of emptiness, one throngs however on the market with as few masks as passion for the League of Nations. The Covid epidemic is under control in Croatia, which has fewer than 21,000 cases. Apart from public places and transport, wearing a mask is not compulsory. On the other hand, the spirits are still encumbered by this early morning of March 22 when the earth trembled. “Everything was on the floor in the city center, it was terrifying,” Svetlana recalls. The scars of the disaster are still visible. Including when you look up at the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption cathedral, part of the south tower of which has collapsed.
Less than three kilometers from the neat alleys of the city center, the old Maksimir stadium does not have the attire of a day of celebration either. Its walls are crumbling under the lights of ageless spotlights, the paintings haven’t been redone in ages and we hope the weather will be nice when we see its roofless stands. “It’s one of the ugliest stadiums in Europe, tackle Dejan Lovren, the Croatian defender. It is unacceptable that a team like Croatia has such a stadium. “
The usual lair of Dynamo and Lokomotiv also has nothing left of the impregnable citadel, where Croatia remained undefeated from 1992 to 2008. The earthquake also continued its work of destruction there. Part of the stands are now closed. Enough to lower the gauge to 7,000 spectators following the authorization of UEFA to open the stadiums to 30% of their capacity if the local authorities allow it.
A return of the public that the Blues see a good eye, they who could only play in front of a few hundred people at the Stade de France against Ukraine (7-1) and Portugal (0-0). “There will certainly be a bit of hostility but it will do good for French players to surpass themselves, blows Hugo Lloris. We will use everything to find the energy and achieve a good performance ”. Croatian fans for their part are hoping to get revenge. History to shake their old stands a little longer. For good reason this time.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr