What to expect from Croatia, Brazil’s rival in the quarterfinals?

The quarterfinal commitment of the Brazilian team in the Qatar-2022 World Cup should not be very different from the first two matches played by Tite’s team in the Middle East.

Croatia, tomorrow’s opponent of the five-time world champion team, starting at 12h (Brasília time), in Cidade da Educação, in Al-Rayyan, should adopt a behavior very similar to that of Serbia and Switzerland, defeated by Vinícius Júnior, Richarlison and co. . in the opening rounds of the group stage.

Unlike South Korea, who believed it was possible to score high against Brazil and conceded four goals in the first half of the match valid for the round of 16, the Croats should follow the example of the Serbs and the Swiss and play close behind waiting for “a ball” to try to solve the game.

The reader who still remembers the last World Cup well might even wonder: but Croatia, world runner-up four years ago, didn’t play like that, did they?

Really, but a lot has changed in the selection led by Zlatko Dalic since the historic result achieved in Russia-2018.

In addition to the natural aging of star Luka Modric, who, at the age of 37, continues to have an absurd technical refinement, but without the same physical intensity as before, the team also lost midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who shared with the number 10 the task of organizing the offensive actions, center forward Mario Mandzukic, his top scorer, and Ante Rebic, his fastest striker on the sides of the pitch.

All these casualties took away from Croatia a good part of its ability to be aggressive and swing the opposing nets. With that, the only option for Dalic to keep the team competitive was to adopt a more cautious and pragmatic football.

And he was successful in that chip change. The duo formed by Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, two defensive midfielders who play for giants in the top echelon of Europe, made the Croatian midfield much more catchy than at the time in Rakitic made up the sector.

In addition, he found a defender with the potential to become one of the best in the world at the position. Relentless in individual disputes and very agile for his size, the young Josko Gvardiol, 20 years old, who defends RB Leipzig, is making a great World Cup and should not take long to appear in even more relevant clubs on the international scene.

Regardless of playing a more or less defensive football, something that hasn’t changed in Croatia since the last Cup is the mental strength that it usually presents to deal with the tension of the knockout rounds.

Of the five knockout games played since the round of 16 of Russia-2018, the team only lost one (the final against France). Of the other four victories, one was obtained in overtime and three in penalty shootouts.

That is, even if they are more physically worn out than Brazil, Croatia will certainly go to the field without any fear of having to deal with another 120 minutes of football… or a little more, considering the time for the tiebreakers.

The Qatar Cup is the first held in the Middle East and had the participation of seven of the eight teams that have already lifted the cup. For the second consecutive edition, four-time champion Italy failed to qualify and is low -Germany, Uruguay and Spain have already been eliminated.

The tournament is being played at the end of the year, and not in its usual period (June and July), because of the heat in the host country during the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

This is the last edition of the FIFA competition with the format that has been used for 24 years, since France-1998. From the next World Cup, organized by the United States, Canada and Mexico, there will be 48 participants in the dispute for the title.

World Cup – quarterfinals

Tomorrow at 12:00 – Croatia v Brazil, Education City, in Al-Rayyan
Tomorrow, at 4pm – Netherlands vs Argentina, Nacional, in Lusail
10/12, at 12h – Morocco x Portugal, Al-Thumama, in Doha
10/12, 4pm – England v France, Al-Bayt, in Al-Khor

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