“Slobodan Silijeg sidled up next to Dino Mihanovic in the atrium of the Croatian Embassy in Northwest Washington, planted his nose into the taller man’s left shoulder and sniffed.

‘This isn’t that new!’ Mihanovic laughed, plucking at the red-and-white, No. 17 jersey he’d just pulled on over his shirt and tie.

Silijeg shot the counselor of the European Union to the United States a skeptical look, and they were both grinning as second secretary Josip Babic swooped into proclaim, ‘Okay, time to go!’

Eight people sardined into the black stretch Chevy Suburban and the driver piloted it toward the Argentine Embassy, which had invited the Croats over to watch the match between their countries this past Thursday. The driver, from Cyprus, smirked slyly as he wondered aloud whether he should root for Argentina.

The 11-minute drive was filled with every possible scenario for Croatia to advance to the knockout stage; everyone agreed that a draw was probably the best hope against a giant such as Argentina. If Croatia did that and then beat Iceland in its final group game Tuesday, Mihanovic said, that should be enough.” (Washington Post)