Brazil shined against South Korea, with four goals scored by Vinicius, Neymar, Richarlison and Paqueta. This victory was much-needed after a disappointing result against Cameroon (0-1). But the Brazilians showed that they had a claim to the title with a performance that blew South Korea out of the water – with the classic Brazilian charm. Between the flicks, tricks and dribbling, Brazil has a serious team that is beginning to pick up speed in this World Cup.
On the opposing side, Croatia is one of the most robust teams in the tournament. Unlike Brazil, their style is solid and relies on a defending line-up that doesn’t let anything past. Their midfield is of undeniable quality, with Luka Modric and the goal-scoring abilities of Krameric and Perisic. The Croatians overcame a very combative Japanese in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw (1-3 on penalties). Ivan Perisic scored the equaliser in what was, in the end, a very difficult match against a Japanese team that was full of hope and momentum. Experience and a tough-as-leather mentality are what set this Croatia team apart.
Croatia vs Brazil: Can the Brazilian offence keep its momentum?
This is a big opportunity for Brazil. With England and France facing off against one another on the other side of the tournament, the path to the final seems clearer than ever. The extent of their attacking power was demonstrated against South Korea. The goal now will be to maintain this level for the remainder of the tournament. If they cannot manage this, they have available a bench populated with some of the best talents in international football who can intervene and save the day. The question remains as to whether the team can maintain its discipline and its rigour in its style of play.
Face to Face: Croatia vs Brazil: Brazil undefeated in the last four encounters
Brazil has never lost to Croatia in their four last encounters, including in competitions (3 wins, 1 draw). This is their first encounter since a 2-0 victory in a friendly in June 2018. Before that, when the two countries met in the 2014 and 2006 editions of the World Cup, Brazil won both times (1-0 and 3-1).
Croatia vs Brazil: Few changes are expected
Croatia will be looking to make as few changes as possible to its starting line-up. A change is expected to the left-back position, where Borna Sosa will replace Barisic, who received a card in the previous match. Otherwise, Croatia will be putting out a 4-3-3 formation with the experienced Kovacic, Brozovic and Modric in the midfield in Petkovic in the centre-forward position.
Brazil will likely also start with their best eleven, as they did against South Korea, in a 4-2-3-1 formation, that can adapt into a 4-3-3 formation on the defence. Richarlison is sure to be on the team considering his form in this World Cup, while Neymar will likely be a new addition to the starting line-up, having recovered from the injury to his ankle in the last match. The key players Vinicuis Jr and Raphina will likely start on the wings, while two deeper midfielders, Lucas Paqueta able Casermiro, will also be in the line-up.
The key to the match: Can Brazil’s positional play get the better of Croatia?
If Brazil has been effective this year, it’s because it has succeeded in putting into play aspects of positional play that are more synonymous with European clubs; each player knows his role. This means that Tite’s team is more efficient and methodical in creating opportunities, which played a huge role in its victory over South Korea. While the previous Brazilian teams were criticised for their useless passes, every ball played has a precise purpose to progressing their offensive play.
The goal for Croatia is to try and prevent that, especially in the midfield between Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta and Neymar. This could mean taking a more conservative approach, but that could be a springboard for the devastating counter-attackers.
Other predictions worth a shot in this Croatia – Brazil match at 4 pm
With Brazil being the clear favourite for getting into the semi-finals of the World Cup, we think they will be capable of scoring a few goals. This is why we opt for an exact score prediction of 3-1. Our previous predictions for Richarlison have been accurate. We think that his positive momentum will likely allow him to score another goal for Brazil, and we see Neymar putting away another as well.