CROACIA 1998: MÁS QUE UN AMOR DE VERANO

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Recuerdo el Mundial de Francia 1998 con mucho cariño, más que nada porque fue el primer mundial que realmente pude ver y entender, ya que en Estados Unidos 1994 era un pequeño de tan solo cinco años. Los robots gigantes caminando por París como inauguración; los cabezazos de Zidane contra Brasil y el de Ortega contra Van der Sar; Mi primer llanto mundialista tras el penal fallado por Luigi Di Biagio. Muchos recuerdos, pero sobresale el de un equipo. Porque eso era, un verdadero equipo: Croacia.
Lo primero que llamaba la atención era como esos muchachos estaban vestidos con una camiseta que parecía un tablero de ajedrez, pero con el correr de los partidos el fútbol fue el que llenó la vista. El conjunto de Miroslav Blazevic se paraba con un 3-5-2, con Drazen Ladic; Slaven Bilic, Zvonimir Zoldo, Igor Stimac; Dario Simic, Robert Jarni, Robert Prosinecki, Aljosa Asanovic; Zvonimir Boban; Davor Suker y Mario Stanic. Qué nombres. Todos en la élite del fútbol europeo. Claro que mi joven mente aún no los conocía, así que fue toda una sorpresa ver como jugaron ante Jamaica en el debut con el triunfo 3 a 1. Era muy entretenido de ver, inclusive en el sufrido triunfo ante Japón por 1 a 0, gracias a su estrella, Davor Suker. Pese a la derrota ante Argentina con el gol de Mauricio Pineda (sí, Pineda tiene un gol en mundiales), la selección croata dejó una buena imagen ya que le plantó cara a un grande y mereció más.
Hasta los rivales hacían particulares los encuentros de Croacia en ese mundial. En octavos enfrentó a Rumania, que contaba con Hagi, Moldovan, Ilie, Popescu y el final de la generación dorada de ese país. Como habían ganado su zona invictos, los rumanos salieron todos a la cancha con el pelo platinado, sumado a la camiseta amarilla con vivos rojos y azules. Era como ver a 11 Billy Idol en cancha. ¿Algún condimento más? Sí, ese partido lo dirigió Javier Castrilli, que dejó su sello con un dudoso penal. Suker lo cambió por gol para darle a Croacia el pase a Cuartos de Final.
Alemania era el siguiente rival, y allí llegó la gran explosión. Comenzaron dominando los Teutones, pero Worns se fue expulsado por una patada karateka a Suker. A partir de ahí, Croacia creció tanto que convirtió no uno ni dos, sino tres goles, gracias a Jarni, Vlaovic y el gran goleador, Suker. Ya todo el mundo estaba subido al carro de Croacia y en semifinales era hora de enfrentar al local, Francia. Podría contar cómo fue ese partido, pero es la única parte triste de la historia. Nadie quiere leer algo triste. Sólo diré que los Galos vencieron por 2-1.
El duelo por el tercer puesto era frente a Holanda. Dirigida por Guus Hiddink,  la Naranja contaba con estrellas del calibre de los hermanos De Boer, Kluivert, Bergkamp y Seedorf. Partidazo de ida y vuelta, tal como se esperaba de dos equipos que pensaban en el arco rival. Finalizó con triunfo croata por 2-1. Suker marcó un tanto y terminó como goleador del Mundial. Croacia consiguió la Medalla de Bronce gracias a un equipo con corazón de oro.
Con el paso de los años uno crece y conoce más cosas que aumentan el cariño de hacia ese equipo, como las guerras balcánicas y la independización de Croacia a principios de la década del 90. Un pueblo que sufrió tanto fue feliz gracias a ese grupo de jugadores que también tenían sus encantadoras particularidades: Prosinecki, el fumador empedernido; el rockstar Bilic o el idealista Boban. Croacia 1998 no fue solo un verano, ya que seguirá perdurando en la memoria de los que disfrutamos del fútbol.
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66 comentarios

  1. Que excelente redacción en todos y cada uno de los artículos, aprecio muchísimo el hecho de que exista una sencilla pero increíble página de fútbol como esta

  2. Tremendo, senti casi todo lo mismo que vos. Y por lo que lei debemos tener la misma edad, nunca me voy a olvidar de Croacia del 98! Que lindos recuerdos y que buena infancia de mundiales. Saludos idolo

  3. A mi me paso algo parecido, Francia 98 fue para mi el primer mundial que disfrute en serio y el recuerdo de ese combo de Suker, Boban, Prosinecki todavía me acompañan, desde ese entonces (y en parte por que Colombia no volvió a pisar un mundial hasta ahora) he apoyado al equipo Croata, con el tiempo y gracias a algunas personas le he agarrado mucho cariño a esa pequeña nación de gran corazón.

  4. Holas, gracias por la nostalgia, aunque a mi me marco el de USA 94, recuerdo el de Francia bastante, los goles de ortega a jamaica, brasil vs dinamarca, el tiro libre de zanetti y el gol de owen a argentina, el gol que le saco davids a ronaldo … Asu q mundial gracias

  5. Pingback: Últimos cupos al Mundial: Arrancan los repechajes

  6. Pingback: Zvonomir Boban y la patada que empezó una guerra

  7. Pingback: Grupo D: Croacia espera dar el salto

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