Fifa World Cup in Russia

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Croatia's footballers have shown that they are good losers after their 2:4 defeat in the Fifa World Cup final. After their initial disappointment the team rallied and celebrated the success: never before has a Croatian national team reached the World Cup final, and the players have been commended for their team spirit and playing technique. The vice champion is therefore also getting its share of the journalists' attention.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino has hailed the football championship tournament that ended yesterday in Russia the best World Cup ever. Vladimir Putin announced that the world has finally realised that its image of Russia was skewed. But not all commentators are convinced the tournament was a major propaganda success for the Russian president.

Commentators are thrilled but not surprised that with Belgium, England, France and Croatia, four European teams have reached the Fifa World Cup semi-finals. They are more surprised, however, by the extraordinary success of the Croatian team, which with its win over Russia has put itself on a par with the legendary "bronze generation" team that placed third in 1998.

The exuberant mood during the World Cup tournament and the unexpected victories of the Russian team have left many Russians in a state of euphoria. Those who oppose the government have been plunged into a moral dilemma over the question of whether Russia's football fever automatically turns them into Putin fans.

Russia has got off to a better start than any other World Cup host in the tournament. Its cities were filled with jubilant fans and motorcades after the Russian team's second victory in its match against Egypt. But commentators suspect the celebratory mood about the team's victories will soon give way to political discontent.

The Egyptians are pinning their hopes on striker Mohamed Salah in the World Cup. Despite a recent shoulder injury Salah is participating in the football championships in Russia. Many newspaper commentators, however, expect more from him than just a great performance on the pitch. Others fear too much is expected of him.

For the first time since 1958 four-time football world champion Italy has failed to qualify for the Fifa World Cup, which will be held in Russia next year. The club's disastrous performance reflects the state of the country as a whole, commentators write, and call for a fresh start, not just in football.