The 2018 FIFA World Cup came to a close Sunday when France secured a 4-2 victory at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium with a strike from outside the penalty box by the Golden Boy Award winner Kylian Mbappé. Les Bleus had impressed en route to the final, with two-thirds of their matches finishing as shutouts. But perhaps more impressive is who made it to that final match as their opponent, a country which only recently gained their independence in 1991 and whose population is only 4.29 million.
Croatia, that young country, needed to overcome soccer powerhouses such as Argentina and England to secure their place in the final. They beat Russia—a nation of over 142 million—in penalties in the quarterfinals, and persevered over England, who boasts a population of around 53 million, in extra time in the semifinals. And although they ultimately came up short against France, Croatia had played a full 90 minutes more than their opponent coming into the final due to three extra time games, and their entire country’s population was merely one-fifteenth of France’s.