Your Guide to Croatia at World Cup in Russia Next Summer

Daniela Rogulj

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The World Cup in Russia will take place from June 14 to July 15, 2018.

While the majority of us are unsure about the state of Croatian football as it stands today, politics and corruption aside, one thing we can all find some joy in is the World Cup in Russia next year.

Although Croatia kept us on the edge of their seats during the qualifications, squeezing a 2:0 win in Kiev to secure a place in the playoffs only to show how dangerous they were in their duel against Greece – Croatia will compete in the World Cup next summer, and boy, it won’t be easy.

The draw for the World Cup groups was held yesterday in Moscow which resulted in Croatia falling into Group D with Argentina, Iceland, and Nigeria. Though Argentina is apparently the favorite, Croatia is seeking revenge against Iceland, and Nigeria’s quick play will give Croatia a run for their money. None of these nations will go without a fight and a hard one.

World Cup matches will be played across Russia, and along with the draw yesterday afternoon, all of the teams were assigned to stadiums in various host cities across the country for the tournament. 

Croatia will open their World Cup tournament in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. The city is about a 15-hour drive from Moscow and 12.5 hours from St. Petersburg. On the other hand, Kaliningrad is just about 4.5 hours from Warsaw in Poland and Vilnius in Lithuania. Croatia’s first match is against Nigeria on June 16, 2018, at 21:00 at Kaliningrad Stadium.

Croatia’s second match of Group D is against Argentina. The two teams will meet in Nizhny Novgorod, located about 400 kilometers east of Moscow. Around a 6.5 hour drive to Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod is 9.5 hours to St. Petersburg. Croatia and Argentina will meet at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018, at 21:00.

For Croatia’s final match of Group D, they will face Iceland. Croatia and Iceland will meet in Rostov-On-Don in southern Russia about a 12 hours drive to Moscow and a 21-hour drive to St. Petersburg. The two teams will meet at Rostov-on-Don Stadium on June 26, 2018, at 21:00. 

Here’s a look at Croatia’s World Cup schedule for Group D:

June 16, 2018 – 21:00: Croatia v. Nigeria at Kaliningrad Stadium

June 21, 2018 – 21:00: Argentina v. Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

June 26, 2018 – 21:00: Iceland v. Croatia at Rostov-on-Don Stadium

How to get there:

You’ve most likely never heard of the cities Croatia will be playing in, but not to fret, here are some tips on how to get there. 

Kaliningrad: Khrabrovo Airport is located in Kaliningrad. After checking Skyscanner, getting directly from Croatia to Kaliningrad does not seem easy, with stops in Vienna and Riga likely. Currently, return tickets from Zagreb are over $750 US dollars. Kaliningrad is also reachable by train from Moscow or by ferry from St. Petersburg and other European cities.

Best bet: Try flying from Zagreb to Riga (around $450 return) and taking a 6.5-hour bus from Riga to Kaliningrad. Or, fly to Gdansk and take a two- hour drive! 

Nizhny Novgorod: Strigino International Airport is located in Nizhny Novgorod, and it looks like you can get there from Zagreb in about 7 hours if you fly over Moscow. Prices are just over $500 for a return ticket during Croatia’s first World Cup games. Once you’re in the city, there will be a metro station to take fans to the stadium.

Rostov-on-Don: Platov International Airport is in Rostov-on-Don, located in the southeastern part of the East European Plain on the Don River. Getting from Zagreb to Rostov-on-Don would require a long layover in St. Petersburg and would cost you over $700 for a return. The drive from St. Petersburg to Rostov-on-Don would take over 21 hours. 

Tickets: Still want to go? A random selection draw for tickets will be held from December 5, 2017, to January 31, 2018, and first come, first served tickets will be available from March 13, 2018, to April 3, 2018. Last minute ticket sales will take place from April 18, 2018, to July 15, 2018. You can find more information here.

The FIFA website is also a great source of information if you’re looking for accommodation and things to do!


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