Following their emphatic victory over South Korea in the round of 16, Brazil takes on Croatia in the quarterfinals at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan on Friday. The Croats eliminated Japan after a penalty shootout in the final round, but can the 2018 runners-up get past the tournament favourites?
Preview Brazil vs Croatia
Brazil coach Tite has explained that joining his team’s celebrations against South Korea was not an act of disrespect to the opposition.
The Selecao won 4-1 against South Korea on Monday and sealed their place in the World Cup quarterfinals in style.
Vinicius Junior opened the scoring before Neymar converted a penalty following a foul on Richarlison, who added a sublime third before Lucas Paquetá finished off Brazil’s spoils, all in the first half of the clash.
After Richarlison’s goal, which crowned a superb play, Tite celebrated with the Tottenham striker performing the ‘dove’ dance.
He was criticized by some sectors of the media, but Tite has explained that he did not mean to disrespect him.
“We try to adapt to the characteristics of the athletes. They are young, I have to get closer to their language, ”he said.
“One day we were training and I told Richarlison ‘if you score a goal, I’ll dance.’
“I told the players to hide me a bit, I know about visibility.
“I didn’t want it to have any other interpretation than the joy of the goal, the result, the performance, but not the lack of respect for the rival or Paulo Bento, whom I respect a lot.”
With his goal, meanwhile, Neymar equaled Pelé and Ronaldo as the third Brazilian player to score in three different World Cups.
The Paris Saint-Germain star is also one short of equaling Pelé’s goalscoring record of 77 for Brazil.
“Achieving records is a great source of pride,” Neymar said.
“I reached numbers that I would never have imagined reaching, that is always very good. It makes me very happy.”
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Croatia stands between Brazil and a place in the last four.
Brazil have never lost in four previous meetings with Croatia, this being their first meeting since a 2-0 friendly win in June 2018.
The South Americans are looking to reach the World Cup semifinal for the ninth time, with only Germany (12) doing so more often.
Croatia, runners-up in 2018, have reached at least the quarter-finals of the competition on the two previous occasions they have made it past the group stage (1998 and 2018).
They have a host of experienced players such as Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren and Andrej Kramaric, with Josko Gvardiol one of the rising stars of this tournament.
Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the hero in the last round, becoming the third goalkeeper in World Cup history to save as many as three penalties in a shootout.
players to watch
Neymar has been involved in 15 goals in his last 11 appearances for Brazil in all competitions (eight goals, seven assists), and each of his last six national team goals has come from the penalty spot.
Last time out against South Korea, he became the first Brazil player on record (since 1966) to score and provide an assist in three different World Cup tournaments.
He needs one more goal to equal Pelé (77 goals) as the top male scorer in the history of the Brazilian team.
Real Madrid star Luka Modric was not on the field when Croatia beat Japan on penalties in the round of 16, but if Zlatko Dalic’s side are to beat Brazil, the 37-year-old will surely be crucial.
Modric has played 16 times in the FIFA World Cup for Croatia overall, two more than any other player. He will face his former Madrid club mate Casemiro and will need the help of Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, but if Modric can influence him, Croatia has a chance.
Brazil vs Croatia betting tip and prediction
Croatia have lost four of their five World Cup matches against South American teams, with the exception of a 3-0 win over Argentina in 2018. Two of those four losses have come against Brazil: 1-0 in 2006 and 3- 1 in 2014. .
Despite reaching the final in Russia, Croatia have claimed just 11.5% victory according to our Opta match prediction model, which has Brazil as the favorite with 68.2%. There is a 20.3% chance of a tie and the match goes to penalties to decide who advances to the semi-finals in Qatar.
The Opta Challenge: World Cup Quarterfinal Games
Of course, there are three other ties to be played in the 2022 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals. You can play our Opta Challenge game for each of these, for a chance to win $500. Click the links below to play (terms and conditions apply).
Argentina vs Holland: play here
England vs. France: play here
Portugal vs Morocco: play here