FIFA: Croatia ready to challenge Brazil at quarter-final
Although Brazil hardly broke a sweat against South Korea on Monday, Croatia had to go to penalties with Japan to secure its spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.
The big win over South Korea on Monday secured Brazil a berth in the quarterfinals in Qatar. It also restored the team’s confidence after a tumultuous start to the tournament in which the Seleçao lost Neymar to injury and saw its unbeaten group-stage streak end in a defeat to Cameroon.
But Neymar retuned in style, looking fully fit and scoring a goal in Brazil’s 4-1 win at Stadium 974. Vinícius Júnior, Richarlison and Lucas Paquetá also scored, and after each goal the Brazilians broke out dance moves.
Neymar missed two matches because of a right ankle injury sustained in the team’s opening 2-0 win against Serbia. Brazil then defeated Switzerland 1-0 before falling to Cameroon in what was its first group-stage loss after 17 games, a streak that had dated to 1998.
Brazil, seeking its first World Cup title in two decades, will face 2018 runner-up Croatia in the quarterfinals on Friday. Brazil has made it to the quarterfinals in eighth straight World Cups.
Croatia have shown trademark resilience to reach the last eight, and they will pose a real threat to the Samba Boys.
Croatia are ready to challenge “terrifying favourites” Brazil in their World Cup quarter-final on Friday, says manager Zlatko Dalic.
Dalic’s side came through extra time three times in the knockout rounds at the 2018 World Cup before losing 4-2 to France in the final.
Croatia beat Japan in the last 16 on Monday on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
“Brazil is the favourite, let’s face it,” Dalic said.
“Brazil is the most powerful and the best national team at the World Cup. What I’ve seen so far, when you take a look at their selection of players, their quality, skills and value, then it is indeed terrifying.
“I think we have a great exam ahead of us, a tough task against the team which plays great soccer with so many good quality and fast players.”
Dalic added that Croatia, ranked 12th in the world, winning the knock-out match would not be a huge upset.
“I think we have nothing to fear,” Dalic said. “We need to enter the match with much faith, self-confidence and looking for our chances, enjoy the occasion of playing Brazil, that’s it. [It’s] too early, if only it were the final.
Croatia would face Argentina or the Netherlands in the semi-finals if they beat Brazil.
This article was reported by BBC.