Croatia and Brazil go head to head for a semi-final place at Education City Stadium.Third World Cup meeting between the sides, Brazil having won previous two.Croatia seeking their third semi-final, Brazil their eighth.
With just one normal-time win so far at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Croatia will hope to fight off the fatigue that came with their penalty-shootout defeat of Japan and surprise Brazil in Friday’s quarter-final.
The winners will face either Argentina or Netherlands in the semi-finals. Croatia finished runners-up in their group after drawing with Morocco and Belgium and thrashing Canada. Though they have yet to reproduce the form that took them to the final at Russia 2018, the Balkan side can still count on the experience of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic in midfield. Five-time world champions Brazil go into the game buoyed by their 4-1 win over South Korea in the last 16. In producing one of the performances of the tournament, they banished any doubts about their form following the slip-up against Cameroon, which had come after wins over Serbia and Switzerland.
Último treinamento! Sexta feira é dia de mais uma batalha!
Vamos em busca da vaga para a semifinal da Copa do Mundo FIFA Qatar 2022
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) December 9, 2022
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) December 8, 2022
Left-back Borna Sosa is still an injury doubt for Croatia, with Borna Barisic set to replace him if he is ruled out. Coach Zlatko Dalic is also pondering his options up front, where three different players have led the line: Andrej Kramaric against Morocco, Marko Livaja against Canada and Belgium, and Bruno Petkovic against Japan. Livaja may well get the nod against Brazil, with Kramaric deployed in a wider role.
As for Brazil, left-back Alex Sandro is back in contention following his injury problems, as is right-back Danilo, whose return would see Eder Militao drop to the bench. Alex Telles and Gabriel Jesus are out of the competition.
Possible starting XIs:
Croatia: Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Andrej Kramaric, Marko Livaja, Ivan Perisic. Suspended: none Misses next match if booked: Lovren, Modric, Kovacic, Barisic Brazil: Alisson; Eder Militao, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo; Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta, Neymar; Raphinha, Richarlison, Vinicius Junior. Suspended: none Misses next match if booked: Militao, Fred, Bruno Guimaraes
Referee: Michael Oliver; Assistant referees: Stuart Burt, Gary Beswick (all ENG)
Brazil and Croatia have played each other five times, with Brazil unbeaten (W3 D2). One of their two draws came when the nations first met, in a 1996 friendly that ended 1-1, a scoreline that was repeated when they played a second friendly in 2005. A year later came the first of two World Cup encounters, at Germany 2006, where Brazil won 1-0. Eight years later, Neymar scored twice in a 3-1 victory for A Seleção at Brazil 2014. The No10 was on target again when the South Americans beat Croatia 2-0 in a Russia 2018 warm-up.
Neymar has scored three goals in two appearances against Croatia.This is only the fourth time Brazil have faced European opposition since Russia 2018.
Their other meetings with teams from Europe came against Czech Republic, Serbia and Switzerland.
Having never previously used all their squad members at a World Cup, Brazil have done just that at Qatar 2022, giving all 26 players some game time.
This is the third time that Croatia have reached the knockout stage at the World Cup.
They finished runners-up at Russia 2018 and placed third at France 98.
Croatia have now qualified from the group phase twice in a row, the first time they have achieved this.
The match against Brazil is only the second time that Croatia have taken on non-European opposition in a World Cup knockout match. The first time was against Japan in the last 16. Their other eight knockout ties have come against European rivals.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said, “Brazil are the favourites. They’ve got the confidence, the buzz, the top-quality players, and they’ve got Neymar back too. I think we can stand up to them, though. Trying to press them isn’t very smart, but you don’t want to give them too much space either. We’ll take a look at them. The odds aren’t exactly 50-50, but we haven’t got this far without deserving it either.”
Brazil right-back Danilo said, “They have some really strong players. There’s nothing more that needs to be said about Modric, and Brozovic, Perisic and Kovacic are all players I know well. They’re strong and are used to playing big games. It’s going to be a really tough match and we need to prepare for it as best we can.”
Venue:Education City Stadium