FIFA World Cup 2022 Quarterfinal: Brazil and Croatia will meet in the quarterfinals of the Qatar World Cup on December 9, the third time the two teams have met in the tournament.
Both teams enter the quarterfinals after contrasting victories over Asian opponents.
Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runner-up, advances to the round of 16 after a tense penalty shootout victory over Japan, in which goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved three Japanese penalty kicks.
Croatia is one of six teams against which Brazil has a perfect record in the FIFA World Cup, with two wins in as many attempts.
The two teams met for the first time at the FIFA World Cup in 2006, with Brazil winning 1-0 thanks to a Kaka goal in the group stage.
The next, and final, World Cup meeting between the two occurred in 2014, when host Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the tournament opener.
The players in the middle of the park for this match are of exceptional quality. Modric, Brozovic, and Kovacic are the three players who drive Croatia’s offence on the field. Despite this, Brazil has players like Neymar, Pacqueta, and Casemiro. However, the similarities end there.
While Croatia’s ageing midfield is coming off a taxing Round-of-16 match that went to penalties, Brazil’s midfield and attackers are young and pacy. While Modric, Brozovic, and Kovacic possess excellent ball control, they frequently leave large gaps in the middle of the field that Brazil can exploit.
Brazil’s exceptional quality is also expected to increase opportunities.
◉ Netherlands 🇳🇱 vs. 🇦🇷 Argentina
◉ Croatia 🇭🇷 vs. 🇧🇷 Brazil
◉ England 🏴 vs. 🇫🇷 France
◉ Morocco 🇲🇦 vs. 🇵🇹 Portugal
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) December 6, 2022
Therefore, the key question is whether the seasoned Croatian midfield can maintain a tight shape and suffocate the Brazilian machine in order to prevent them from playing fluid football. Brazil, on the other hand, will have half the battle won if they can isolate Croatia’s midfield. Runner Brozovic is.
He broke a World Cup record for the highest distance run in a game when he ran around 16.70 kilometres against Japan in the Round of 16. (breaking his own previous record of 16.33km in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup against England).
While Vinicius and Raphinha will be difficult for Croatian full-backs to handle, Neymar is largely responsible for their build-up play. On paper, Dejan Lovren, a centre-back, is responsible for stopping Neymar. But on each of their three meetings, the Brazilian has outperformed him. Therefore, it is up to Brozovic, the defensive midfielder who will protect the four-man backline, to keep Neymar under close control and prevent him from forming a combination with Richarlison, which has been Brazil’s favoured attack strategy.
It’s difficult to imagine how Croatia will be able to halt Brazil if Brozovic is unable to restrict Neymar.