The first fixture of the quarter final of this year’s Mondial presents fans all over the world with high anticipation as record winners Brazil take on 2018 finalists Croatia in a quest to book a spot in the last four.
Brazil have been tipped as favorites of the competition after their immense depth and quality they’ve presented in the tournament. The 1958 winners thrashed South Korea by four goals and stamped their authority emphatically announcing their presence to all other teams in the competition.
Croatia however managed to bounce back in the second half against Japan to draw after 120 minutes in their Round of 16 Tie and eventually win on Penalties to book a place in the last 8. For the first time in successive world cups Croatia make it to the last 8 but they face their toughest battle since the 2018 final when they take on record winners Brazil.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Where: Education City Stadium
When: 3:00 GMT
Date: 9th December 2022
It is paramount that Croatia try their absolute best to be solid defensively and leave no spaces for the Selecao to prevent the front five of Neymar, Vinicius, Raphinha, Paqueta and Richarlison from finding the back of the net. It is clear that Brazil lack in the lateral position defensively yet Eder Militao has managed to compliment the pairing of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos magnificently.
Croatia have their best quality in midfield in Modric, Kovacic and Brozovic and this will be the key for their attacking runs and provision to create chances and keep the ball from the Brazilian opposition as much as possible.
Gvardiol remains the ideal pairing with the experienced Dejan Lovren who provided an assist to Ivan Perisic in the Round of 16.
Ivan Perisic scored his 6th world cup goal with the equalizer against Japan and will look to find the back of the net once again in their crucial tie against Brazil, a goal that could make him the record top scoring Croatian at the World Cup finals.
Tite’s men know this is the best squad Brazil have had in a very long time and their best shot of winning it since 2002. A victory means that they face the winner of the Argentina vs Netherlands game and this year’s Mondial continues to get tougher and tougher by game.
Brazil look dangerous whenever they break when find Vinicius or Raphinha in the wide areas. They will press and try to force mistakes high up the pitch and this is where Croatia need their midfield Trio to be at their very best.
Gabriel Jesus, Alex Telles and Alex Sandro remain ruled out through injury ahead of this huge quarter final clash. It remains unlikely that Tite changes his starting XI from the South Korea game.
Croatia leftback Borna Sosa missed the last-16 clash against Japan due to illness and, assuming a full recovery, he could return to the starting XI at left-back instead of Borna Barisic. Josip Stanisic also missed the Japan game through a muscle injury and his inclusion in the squad is unlikely.
Croatia XI: Livakovic Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric, Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic
Brazil XI: Alisson, Militao, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo, Casemiro, Paqueta, Raphinha, Neymar, Vinicius Jr, Richarlison
PLAYER TO WATCH
Brazil: Neymar Jr
Croatia: Luka Modric