The tension is building. Almost every car has a red and white detail, shops and houses are proudly flying the Croatian flag and cafes and bars are already playing supporters hymns. The biggest match in Croatian football history since the World Cup semi-finals in France in 1998 is on the doorstep. Croatia take on England tonight in Moscow for a place in the 2018 World Cup Final.
Every newspaper in the country is dominated by news from the Croatian camp, as well as pages and pages on Gareth Southgate’s players. Shops have almost run out of any kind of supporter’s kits, flags, hats, shirts, glasses…just about everything with red and white squares has been sold out.
And in preparation of the big game the vast majority of shops in the country will close their doors at 19.30 tonight so that their staff can all watch the match. “If they remained open they would probably be empty anyway,” commented a fan.
Beer and crisp sales have gone through the roof with many shops reporting a 70 percent increase in sales on snacks and beer. Many other products have followed the football euphoria; you can even buy washing powder in Croatian colours.
An eerie silence will fall over the country at 20.00, which will either be broken by cheers or tears.