Neymar on the ball against Croatia in the 2014 World Cup match

World Cup 2022 quarter-final preview: Croatia v Brazil – can Neymar’s men samba into the semis?

Brazil take on Croatia at The Education City Stadium in Doha this afternoon as the World Cup quarter-finals get underway.   

Historical context

Their first encounter was in 2006 in the group stage, which saw the South American side run out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from Kaka.

Brazil and Croatia faced each other eight years later for the first match of the 2014 edition, with the hosts at the time coming from a goal down to win 3-1 thanks to a double from Neymar and a goal from Oscar.

Team News

The Selecao were relieved to see talisman Neymar come through the game against South Korea unscathed as he returned from an ankle injury that kept him out of the last two group games.

Left-back Alex Sandro has missed a couple of games and wasn’t risked against South Korea, but should return which would mean Danilo likely drops to the bench, while the rest of the team seemingly picks itself. 

Croatia will welcome the return of full-back Borna Sosa who missed the penalty shootout win against Japan through illness. Borna Barisic who came on for Sosa is expected to drop to the bench. 

Key Battles

Vinicius Junior v Josip Juranovic

Real Madrid starlet Vinicius Junior could well be licking his lips as he faces up Celtic right-back Josip Juranovic on the Brazil left.

The right-back has been solid alongside Dejan Lovren and offers thrust and guile down the flank in attacking transition.

However, he’ll have his work cut out against the in-form Vinicius, who has terrorised his opposite full-backs in every game he has played in Qatar.

The 22-year-old’s blend of pace, trickery and directness will prove to be Juranovic – and Croatia’s – toughest test yet.

Neymar v Marcelo Brozovic

Talismanic captain Neymar will be shadowed closely by an experienced head, Marcelo Brozovic.

The Inter Milan defensive midfielder will be tasked with sticking tightly to the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who will seek to pick up minute pockets of space in what should be a more compact Croatian shape than we have seen so far.

When in possession, Brozovic might be able to exploit Neymar’s lack of defensive work-rate.

The Croat excels at starting moves and playing incisive passes through the lines, and if he is afforded space to do so here, he could well set off some deadly Croatian counter-attacks.

Eder Militao v Ivan Perisic

He might not have played as much as he’d have liked at Tottenham, but when it comes to the international stage, Ivan Perisic is the go-to man when it comes to Croatia’s front three.

Perisic has the capability of either hugging the touchline or drifting inside with his two-footedness and could cause makeshift right-back Militao a problem with his direct ball-carrying.

The winger’s aerial ability is often an underrated out-ball or penalty-box target for Zlatko Dalic’s side, and Real Madrid man Militao must stay alert to Perisic’s far-post darts when either Juranovic or Modric are in possession on the right.

Route to the quarter-final

Croatia find themselves in the last eight after a dramatic 3-1 penalty shootout victory against Japan in the round of 16. 

Having come second in Group F after a thumping 4-1 win against Canada and two goalless draws with Morocco and Belgium, Dominik Livaković’s goalkeeping heroics meant the 2018 finalists reached their second-successive quarter-final.

Brazil secured their place in the knockout rounds after two wins against Serbia and Switzerland.

Despite a 1-0 defeat to Cameroon in their final Group G game, Tite’s men head into this encounter with plenty of confidence after a convincing 4-1 victory against South Korea in the round of 16.

Brazil and Croatia have faced each other twice before at a World Cup.  

Possible starting line-ups

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Militao, T. Silva, Marquinhos, Sandro; Casemiro, Paqueta; Vinicius, Neymar, Raphinha; Richarlison.

Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic. 


Croatia 1-3 Brazil

Follow the Sports section of the SW Londoner for more coverage of the World Cup 2022.

Featured image credit: via File:Brazil and Croatia match at the FIFA World Cup 2014-06-12 (47).jpg – Wikimedia Commons

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