After match versus Sweden Guus Hiddink said it was a great day for Russia. He was content with every member of the team as none of them had committed silly mistakes done during match with Spain. He also said he would like to see the picture of the Russian cities where people were celebrating the victory. Mr. Hiddink never smiled before the match and he stayed serious even after the score became 2 to 0. He also looked reserved at the press conference. One only could see in his eyes a modest satisfaction out of the well done and very hard job.
The journalists, gathered in the media zone, agreed unanimously that it had been the best match by Russians during last 20 years. What really mattered was not the score itself, but the fact that Russia got better hand of Sweden without doing more it could do. We defeated the Swedes with their Ibragimovich in a calculating and measured manner.
This calm satisfaction was seen in each word and gesture by our guys after the match. Zyryanov asked not to call that victory “great” as the main struggle was still ahead. Zhirkov being asked whether it had seemed to him that Swedes had got butterflies on that day, retorted with a grin ‘So if we beat them it means that was a different Sweden?’ The tired Billyaletdinov said honestly “You know what made me angry before the start of the championship? It’s about pricks and sneers by the former Russian team members saying we would finish as usual and there was no sense of us being present there. And now we have proved everything to them.”
With our match, Innsbruck and other small cities said good buy to big football which moved now to Basel and Vienna till the very final.
Before our match with Nederland the city of Basel had grown orange. They said, about 100,000 Hollanders had come to support their team. All of them looked very confident. When someone recognized me to be Russian, they pointed at me and said “you’ll go home today”. I answered back “only with you” and I did not believe to myself: we were to meet the team who had defeated the golden and silver champions of the last World Cup. Van Basten also was an embodiment of confidence. Of course, he said some compliments at our team’s address, but anyway he concluded that still it’s them to go further.
Like it was before the match with Sweden, Guus Hiddink admitted we were outsiders in the coming meet. And yet he specified that Russian team would be playing the attacking football.
This might have been taken for naivety, the one that spoiled our match with Spain. But it turned to be a reality. We beat the Hollanders with their own weapon, that’s sharp and attacking playing. All that the orange were able to do was dangerous standards. We were just stronger.
Different people approached me after the match. They shook my hand and slapped me on the shoulder “Your team must play in the final. We haven’t seen for long such a football”.
Same was admitted by Van Basten saying Russians had won deservedly. I still could not believe that and I had to hammer this fairytale-like truth into my head.
Guus Hiddink came to the press conference tired, but still his eyes were filled with sparkles. He said he was proud of every player and he said they had amazed him. He is amazed with the fact they learn so quickly.
“What would you like to say to Russian fans who failed to come here?” such was my last question to Mr. Hiddink.
“I want to thank them. I know hundreds of thousands people support us in the Red Square and even more people do it in other cities. Believe me, realizing that you have brought some joy to so many people makes this victory even more pleasant”.