Yesterday, Russia had to battle Croatia in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup. Although their soccer team is not highly ranked, expectations for the Russians were high as the host country. It doesn’t also help that one of the nation’s greatest athletes just won the Stanley Cup.
Alexander Ovechkin has been living it up since he won the Cup by doing keg stands directly from the prestigious trophy, swimming in public fountains, and other crazy shit. He also brought it to his country during the World Cup fan fest in Moscow ahead of the Russia-Croatia match in Sochi. Fans would get to see hockey’s greatest trophy before watching the biggest soccer game in their nation’s history.
Ultimately, the game didn’t end the way Russians wanted it to, with the host team falling to Croatia 4-3 on PK’s. It was a cruel way to end it for the Russians as they had chances to win this game, but unfortunately, they couldn’t. This game then made me wonder; did Ovechkin bringing the Cup to Russia on the day of the county’s most important game there cost them the World Cup?
My thinking tells me that bringing the Stanley Cup there definitely didn’t help them. In fact, it may have actually hurt them. Ovi’s day with Cup seems harmless, but when he brings the Cup somewhere, that place is going to be in party mode for however long he is there. The whole country was excited to see Ovi bring his first Stanley Cup home, and rightfully so. However, how can a team focus so heavily on winning a game when there is such a big party going on.
Ovi could have been a pretty big distraction for the team and the fans as they were looking to land another type of Cup win. Now, of course, these players are professionals and should be able to block out the noise, but this was probably one of the biggest parties in a long time for Russia and it would’ve been even bigger if the soccer team could’ve won the game against Croatia. That’s a lot of pressure and pretty high expectations to put on a team who almost got knocked out in the pool stages.
Ovechkin was snake bitten all these years and he could never win the Cup. After he finally won and shook his curse, he pushed it off onto his own country in the World Cup. Russia just couldn’t put Croatia away and evidently, it cost them a shot at the the World Cup. They needed all the morale and support from every Russian citizen, but with Ovi’s huge party going on in Moscow, there wasn’t enough of it.
Photo Credit: CBS News