By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 09, 2022
The quarterfinals begin today. Eight teams have survived the group stages and the first knock-out round. Teams from Group E have all exited the Cup—Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, and Japan. Group F is the only group thus far to have two teams survive to play in the last eight—Croatia and Morocco. The rest of the groups have one team each still left standing before the stage moves to the round of four.
Brazil vs Croatia: World Cup Quarter-Final
Croatia squares up with Brazil in the first quarter-final match at the Education City Stadium. Zlatko Dalic and his boys prevailed over Japan in the last match winning 3-0 on penalties. Big match temperament and nerves got to the Japanese players as Dominik Livakovic manning the Croatian goal brought up two superb saves (not to mention a few during regulation time). The match could have gone either way. Croatia ploughed on with their sheer experience and a solid defensive line.
Borna Barisic (coming in for the indisposed Borna Sosa, left-back) Josko Gvardiol, Dejan Lovren, and Josip Juranovic ensured their fort was not breached. Livakovic also proved to be a tough nut to crack. Croatia will have to dip deep into their reserves to pull one back against the rampaging Brazilians who danced their way to a 4-1 victory over South Korea.
Richalison’s jugglery on top of the box (setting up his own goal) are moments that should be frozen in time. Their play resembled the Brazil of old when they had Mazinho, Bebeto, and Romario up front. Remember their famous ‘rock the baby’ dance in the 1994 World Cup match after Bebeto scored the first goal against the Netherlands? Grouping at the touchline Neymar & Co broke into a rhythmic jig bringing back memories of old.
Brazil vs Croatia… style of play
Brazil has been quick, decisive, and potent in the rival box. Finishing has been clinical. Thiago Silva, Militao, Marquinhos, and Danilo have defended and attacked with equal aplomb.
They have scored eight goals thus far, conceding one. And the rhythm and ease with which they have been attacking make them an automatic favourite.
Croatia on the other hand has been defensive, on the whole. They had ample opportunities against Japan but failed to convert. They have scored four goals and conceded one, all against Canada. That was the match that woke them from their slumber after Alphonso Davies’s strike just 68 seconds into the match.
If they play the game they played against Canada, then soccer fans are in for a royal treat. That was the game (piercing, attacking, looking-for-goal game) they played against France in the final last year in Russia. But Didier Deschamps’, dull, boring, soccer [first in their semi-final against Belgium and then against Croatia] was not something the connoisseur looks forward to. But then, every team wants to win. So what if Marcelo Brozovic was 500kms away from Antoine Griezmann when the ‘actor’ fell to eat some grass, to force a free-kick that led to France’s first goal and shifted the momentum towards the Frenchmen.
Luka looking for glory
Luka Modric, not one to throw in the towel easily, will be lurking dangerously on top of the rival box to blast in his trademark, on-the-run hit. His 62nd-minute blast that dipped dangerously was punched over in the last second by Japan’s Shūichi Gonda, who like Livakovic made some excellent saves during regulation time.
Croatia will have to have enough players intercept passes upfront. Brazil already does that. Livakovic will be a busy man today, and so will the Croatian defence. My heart beats for Croatia, but then Branco, Dunga, Taffarel, Cafu, and Roberto Carlos have been my all-time favourites.
May the best team win!
Brazil vs Croatia at the World Cup
The first-ever FIFA World Cup match between the two sides was in 2006 in Germany, where Brazil won 1-0, thanks to a Kaka goal in the group stage.
The next, and the last, World Cup match between the two happened in 2014 when host Brazil brushed aside Croatia 3-1 in the tournament opener.
Also Read: Croatia vs Morocco, a goalless draw
Pic Credits: richalisonpomboo/Instagram
Pic Credits: lukamodric10/Instagram