MOSCOW — Their legs had stopped working long before the end. Their muscles ached, their lungs heaved, their bodies creaked and groaned. Croatia’s players had hit their limits and traveled beyond them, yet again; they had drained themselves of adrenaline; they had passed deep into the red, into the pain.
And still, even as their movements grew stiff and their tendons tight, when they were gasping for breath and it looked as though they could not possibly give any more, they kept going, kept chasing, kept running: past England, into the World Cup final, into history.
Croatia 2 England 1
David Lindsay: Here is a comment I really liked, and my response to it.
Well done Croatia. Great strategy start to finish – and I mean that, including the first half.
I disagree with the article waxing on about burning legs and exhaustion and beating the odds, the article completely missed the point that this game was played by Croatia as chess vs. checkers.
It was clear from about 15 minutes in by looking at the players’ body language what would happen: Croats were mostly walking and jogging, relaxed, expending occasional bursts of energy as needed and running England into hyperdrive, burning their energy and focus.
They mistook Croatia’s initial quiet, “diagnostic” soft pace as weakness and underestimated the lurking dangers of playing a long game against endurance players who only get more energetic and more accurate under duress. The Croats used pace and pressure to build their advantage. Sometimes you gotta watch out for the quiet ones. Well done.