The Quarter Finals of the 2022 World Cup kick off with what should be a titanic battle between Croatia and Brazil. One one side is one of the finer embodiments of jogo bonito that we have seen in recent years with a fluid Brazilian side that runs deep with quality and creativity in every position on the pitch. Against them is the solid rigidity of a Croat defence that takes no prisoners and keeps them in every game for just long enough to make a difference on the attacking end.
Brazil’s dominant decimation of a plucky South Korea side in the Round of 16 clash only served to shorten their odds as favorites for the World Cup trophy. Injuries have certainly been an issue for Tite this tournament, with Gabriel Jesus the latest casualty, undergoing surgery that’ll see him out for a while.
Meanwhile, it might be reductive to say the European side have made it to the quarterfinals on the back of three draws and a solitary win over a plucky Canada, but at the same time they have only conceded two goals and the defence led by Josko Gvardiol have been imposing. Croatia held their nerve — and some truly awful finishing from Romelu Lukaku — in their last group game to give Belgium’s Golden Generation a final farewell, but it does feel that stopping Brazil from scoring at least a couple of times will require another superhuman effort. However, if anyone can do it, it would be the team that did exactly this on their way to the World Cup Final four years ago.
- Date: Friday, December 9
- Kickoff Time: 7:00 am PT / 10:00 am ET / 3:00 pm GMT
- Location: Education City Stadium
- Match Officials: Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG), Assistant Referee 1: Stuart Burt (ENG), Assistant Referee 2: Gary Beswick (ENG)
- How To Watch: TV and streaming info via Live Soccer TV
Brazil XI: It’s unlikely Tite will tinker with lineup that swept South Korea aside, especially since it’s unlikely Alex Sandro will have recovered from his hip issue. This means Danilo would continue to fill in at left back with Eder Militao in on the right again.
Militao, Fred and Bruno Guimaraes are all carrying a yellow card and another one in this game will see them suspended for the next game.
Alisson; Militao, Marquinhos, Silva, Danilo; Paqueta, Casemiro; Raphinha, Neymar, Vinicius; Richarlison.
Croatia XI: Borna Sosa and Josip Stanisic missed the Round of 16 win over Japan, but while the former is expected to recover from his illness, the latter could be a late decision after a muscle injury.
Team leader Luka Modric, Borna Barisic, Mateo Kovacic and Dejan Lovren all have a yellow card and another booking would mean a suspension in the semi-final if they make it.
Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic.
Croatia appear to have defied age and time to get to this stage a full four years after that incredible run in Russia 2018, but Brazil might be the end of the road for some of those veterans.
The Selecao are showing that they have the flexibility to change their approach depending on how their opponents are setting up, and seem to be able to let the game wax or wane on a whim.
Neymar coming back and playing as well as he did against South Korea along with Richarlison in great form are already a handful, but when you add the pace of Vinicius Jr, and anyone of half a dozen players with an eye for goal you know your work is cut out against them.
Prediction: Brazil 3-1 Croatia. Brazil have just too many weapons for a stretched and possibly tired Croatian side to handle, and especially if they score early, this one could get out of hand.