FIFA World Cup Quarter-finals Croatia vs Brazil Match Details and Game Prediction

Dec 9, 2022

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After Ivan Perisic canceled out a first-half strike from Daizen Maeda, the two nations were forced into extra time and then penalties, but the Checkered Ones prevailed in the shootout with goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saving three of Japan’s four spot kicks to help Zlatko Dalic’s side book their place in the last eight.

Croatia is no stranger to drama at the highest level of international football, as they have been taken to extra time in seven of their last eight knockout matches at major tournaments since finishing third at their first World Cup finals back in 1998.

Four of Croatia’s last five knockout matches at the World Cup have gone to extra time and three of which have seen the Checkered One’s triumph on penalties – a 4-2 defeat to France in the 2018 final is the only time during this run that a knockout game involving Croatia was decided in 90 minutes.

Dalic and co are unbeaten in their last 10 internationals and have lost only one of their last 20 games across all competitions since Euro 2020, but this impressive run is set to be tested by a high-flying Brazil outfit who head into Friday’s contest off the back of their best performance at this year’s tournament in Qatar against South Korea.

After Ivan Perisic canceled out a first-half strike from Daizen Maeda, the two nations were forced into extra time and then penalties, but the Checkered Ones prevailed in the shootout with goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saving three of Japan’s four spot kicks to help Zlatko Dalic’s side book their place in the last eight.

Croatia is no stranger to drama at the highest level of international football, as they have been taken to extra time in seven of their last eight knockout matches at major tournaments since finishing third at their first World Cup finals back in 1998.

Four of Croatia’s last five knockout matches at the World Cup have gone to extra time and three of which have seen the Checkered One’s triumph on penalties – a 4-2 defeat to France in the 2018 final is the only time during this run that a knockout game involving Croatia was decided in 90 minutes.

Dalic and co are unbeaten in their last 10 internationals and have lost only one of their last 20 games across all competitions since Euro 2020, but this impressive run is set to be tested by a high-flying Brazil outfit who head into Friday’s contest off the back of their best performance at this year’s tournament in Qatar against South Korea.

TEAM NEWS

Croatia duo Borna Sosa and Josip Stanisic both missed the win over Japan due to illness and a muscle injury respectively; the former should be available to return and could replace Borna Barisic at left-back, while the latter remains doubtful and will be assessed ahead of kickoff.

Dalic is unlikely to make too many changes to his starting lineup, with midfield maestros Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, and Mateo Kovacic all expected to retain their places on Friday – both Modric and Kovacic are just one booking away from suspension along with Barisic and Dejan Lovren.

Indeed, Lovren is set to continue his partnership in defense alongside sought-after starlet Josko Gvardiol, while Marko Livaja and Ante Budimir will be battling to displace Bruno Petkovic as the central striker. Perisic and Andrej Kramaric, meanwhile, are poised to start again on the flanks.

As for Brazil, they will be without Gabriel Jesus and Alex Telles, who is ruled out for the rest of the World Cup with knee injuries, while Tite has revealed that Alex Sandro is unlikely to feature as he continues to recover from a hip problem.

Sandro’s Juventus teammate Danilo is therefore set to continue at left-back, joining Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, and Eder Militao in the back four.

Militao is one of three Selecao stars along with Fred and Bruno Guimaraes who is only one yellow card away from missing a potential semi-final bout, and the latter two are expected to begin again on the substitutes’ bench, with Casemiro and Paqueta preferred by Tite to start in center-midfield.

Star attacker Neymar recovered from an ankle injury to start and score against South Korea, and he is poised to continue in an advanced role in between wingers Raphinha and Vinicius Junior, while Richarlison is set to lead the lineup front.

Croatia’s possible starting lineup:

Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric; Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic

Brazil’s possible starting lineup:

Alisson; Militao, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo; Casemiro, Paqueta; Raphinha, Neymar, Vinicius Jr; Richarlison

Match Prediction

Croatia vs Brazil picks and predictions

Brazil is going to beat Croatia, and despite the ruggedness of the Croatian team, they’ll do it in 90 minutes without much complication. For all the rightful adoration Brazil’s attack has garnered during the tournament, they’ve been nearly impenetrable at the back. 

The only goals Brazil have conceded in Qatar have been to Cameroon with a heavily rotated squad, having already progressed, and South Korea’s consolation in the Round of 16. That isn’t the result of good fortune but rather tremendous defensive stability.

While Brazil’s fullbacks were of concern ahead of the tournament, they’ve passed each test in the face of several injuries. It’s the spine of their defense, however, that has been performing at an elite level. In Casemiro in midfield, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva at center back, and Alisson in goal, Brazil have a quartet featuring three world-class players and one of their best-ever performers in Silva. 

Brazil’s defense has effectively muted any attacking opportunities for opponents so far. They’re conceding 0.35 expected goals per 90 — the second-lowest at the World Cup behind Argentina — and opponents are averaging just 11.25 shot-creating actions per 90 against them. (For comparison Qatar, who scored once and had six shots on target across three games, averaged 12.67 shot-creating actions per 90.)

In the rare scenarios in which Brazil’s defense has been beaten, Alisson has answered the call. The Liverpool keeper is one of the best shot-stoppers on the planet and has already made a few needed saves at the World Cup, with the lone goal he has allowed coming on 1.6 xG. 

Alisson may not be needed against this Croatia team, however, with the 2018 runners-up creating so little in four games. Among the teams left in Qatar, only Morocco has fewer goals per 90 (0.92) than Croatia’s 1.15, while their 1.20 xG per 90 is the third-lowest. 

The direct nature of Croatia’s attacks, playing into striker Andrej Kramaric from wide areas, doesn’t threaten Brazil’s defensive weaknesses either, with Silva and Marquinhos more than equipped to deal with such attacks. 

Croatia has the tournament know-how but is, on balance, the least impressive team remaining. Brazil will send them home on Friday and do so with a clean sheet. 

Match prediction: Brazil to win.

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