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Russia’s Ban Cements Croatia’s WC Run, But What Could Have Been?

December 9, 2019


Russia in (insert sport) over the past decade is kind of like that shady girl your best friend is dating. She’s toxic. You don’t like her. And you want her to go away. She’s probably cheating on him but you don’t have any concrete evidence to back up your claims.



Well, your best friend’s Russian girlfriend got caught red handed (again) today. The World Anti-Doping Agency’s unanimous decision, if upheld, would exclude Russia from the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 World Cup, the New York Times reports. But they will be able to play at Euro 2020 since the tournament is not a “global” event, merely a continental competition.



Russia is the epitome of the saying, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” And if you haven’t watched the documentary Icarus yet and are a sports fan, watch it. It won Best Documentary at the Oscars in 2018.



So now that we know the Russians have been cheating across the board for the past five years, we know the Russian players at the World Cup in 2018 must have been jacked up; especially on home soil.



Russia cruised through Saudi Arabia and Egypt, 5-0 and 3-1 respectively in group play, before losing 3-0 to Uruguay in the group finale. Then, in the Round of 16, Russia outlasted Spain in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 match where Spain controlled the ball for 75% of the time and rattled off 25 attempts on goal. Russia’s goal came from the spot while Spain only got on the board through an own-goal.



If the Russian players weren’t getting extra-added help during the World Cup, they surely would have lost to Spain if all things were equal, which would have set up a monster clash between Croatia and Spain in the quarterfinals.



But that didn’t happen.



Instead, the Vatreni muscled through a Russian side at home to ultimately win their second straight penalty kick shootout. Yes, Croatia needed to defeat a doped up Russian team playing in Russia at the World Cup to set up an epic semifinal clash with England. That’s a sports movie storyline in itself. Ever see Rocky IV?



With this confirmed information that the Russians have been doping this decade – we can safely assume the same was going on with their football players in 2018. So how did all this affect the World Cup timeline?



I think all Croatian supporters can agree that playing three straight extra time matches against Denmark, Russia, and England hurt the team against France in the Final. Croatia, in essence, played an entire full 90-minute match compared to France. In a 7-game tournament at the end of an already long and rigorous club season, 90 extra minutes can ‘break you’ (add accent).



So let’s throw this hypothetical situation into the mix.



Croatia, of course, needed extra time and penalties to dismiss Denmark. But let’s say the Russians didn’t use an edge at the World Cup. Based on pure talent, Croatia could have easily dismissed them with a 1-0 or 2-0 victory inside 90 minutes. Modrić and company would have been much fresher for the England match – and who knows – maybe the Vatreni handle the Three Lions inside 90 minutes as well.



Now, instead of going into the France Final with an extra 90 minutes under their belt, Croatia would have only played an extra 30 against Denmark two weeks prior. Who knows how the World Cup Final would have turned out if Croatia was fresh? I know this sounds a bit preposterous but it’s not an impossible scenario.



With this new Russian doping scandal, you have to be pretty pissed off if you’re Spain or Croatia. Even though the Russians didn’t win anything by cheating, they definitely affected outcomes.



We will never know how much the Russians were doping during the World Cup or how it would have affected their matches if they didn’t, but one thing is true.



Croatia defeated cheating Russians in Russia at the World Cup to end their run. It only adds to the magical World Cup the Vatreni had…and that’s pretty cool .




Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 22 comments

  1. Iggy Iggy says:

    Impossible to say what would or would have happened if they werent doping, maybe we lose to Spain and it ends there?

    One thing that is for sure is it makes us look even better that even with their cheating we still won. And i think we all knew they were doping, at the time we all commented on this site, it was clear, they had gone 240 mins in 2 games (like us) and most of their guys couldnt blow out a candle, was definitely something unnatural going on with them.

  2. Mark says:

    10 year old fan boy logic mixed in with a 18 year olds geopolitical naïveté

    Posts like this will make me hesitate to revisit this site in the future.

  3. The truth says:

    Or what if ante kvartuc hadn’t written the Ukraine boycott article to inspire the hns and its players onto the right path?… Wouldn’t have had that world cup run

    Or, if they boycotted… They also wouldn’t have had that run

  4. Canuckcro says:

    This doping scandal proves one thing..fifa and uefa are above the law because all the other collective world sports powers hang all!!, need armstrong as an example but a massive soccer entity just does what it wants to absolutely stealing the wc trophy out of our vatreni hands deliberately..from our hrvat brothers!!!

  5. Canuckcro says:

    I WILL NEVER RESPECT the winners of half the euros or worldcup wins from the past..absolute travesty of sports justice..cant change my mind.

  6. Elvis says:

    Our guys were dropping on the field
    From cramps and exhaustion . No juice
    There. Only the Truimph of the Will !

  7. BZ says:

    ssshhhhh, likely Ronaldo and Messi doping too. Many believe Messi has been doped since teen years (prescription for his short stature.)

    Russians do dope more, AND attempt to change data by hacking the testing agency to change results. Should be banned from Euro 2020, but they’ll save a suspension like that for a Country like Croatia.

  8. Maminjo says:

    Messi suffered from Growth Hormone Disorder (GHD) growing up, so he was prescribed HGH as a treatment for this.

    He may still be using HGH, but he would get a pass to use it because he would be taking it (not for performance enhancing purposes) but in order to overcome a medical condition.

    I don’t know too much about GHD, but I would assume he wouldn’t need to take HGH anymore, now that he’s a somewhat normal height and is healthy. But yea, it probably does enhance his performance regardless of him taking it for medical purposes.

  9. Dannyj says:

    For sure hgh would help speed recovery and in that sense definitely be performance enhancing

    I say let em all juice and see how good the soccer gets!!

  10. Iggy says:

    Anyone else remember how after France 98 about eight of the French team tested positive for – is it Nandrolone? Cos i distinctly remember it. Funny how it was hush-hush.

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