Croatia v Brazil: Samba boys look hard to stop
Croatia v Brazil betting odds, tips and predictions
Brazil’s status as World Cup favourites has never wavered during Qatar 2022 and they are expected to take another step towards justifying that tag when they face Croatia.
The two teams had very contrasting round-of-16 ties against Asian opposition as Brazil blew South Korea away in the first half while Croatia needed penalties to get past Japan.
Friday’s match at the Education City Stadium kicks off at 3pm and is live on the BBC.
Goals flow for Brazil but Croatia look leggy
Brazil progressed through the group stage with the minimum of fuss but hardly set pulses racing against Serbia and Switzerland before losing to Cameroon after rotating their squad.
They impressed defensively by not facing a shot on target in the first two games although they only managed three goals, but it was a very different story when the knockout stage began.
South Korea may have been shambolic but Brazil took full advantage with a first-half blitz to cruise into the quarter-finals.
Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta all found the net as the five-time champions exploited yawning gaps in their opponents’ defence to run riot.
As the favourites eased down after the break South Korea showed plenty of intent in attack and grabbed a deserved consolation goal in the 76th minute when Seung-ho Paik let fly from the edge of the box but Brazil were able to rest their star men.
Croatia had no such luxury as they were taken the distance by Japan. The 2018 runners-up fell behind courtesy of Daizen Maeda’s 43rd-minute finish, before equalising through an Ivan Perisic header 10 minutes into the second half.
🇭🇷 Croatia's hero 🇭🇷
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 5, 2022
In the shoot-out that then followed, Dominik Livakovic kept out tame efforts from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida but Croatia will need a huge improvement if they are to trouble Brazil.
Neymar return boosts Brazil
Brazil have barely put a full wrong at the World Cup when at full strength and the return of Neymar helped add to their creativity against South Korea.
He had feared his tournament was over when he sustained an ankle injury in their opening match but played 81 minutes on Monday.
“I did not feel any pain in my ankle,” he said. “I think my performance went very well and I’m very content, but that said I think we can always improve and that’s what I will try to do.”
With Richarlison among the Golden Boot contenders and the other attacking players all looking threatening, this could be another one-sided affair.
Croatia looked short of energy against Japan and while they have plenty of experience, many of their best players look past their best and Luka Modric has not had the same impact as he had in Russia four years ago when he won the Golden Ball.
They have failed to beat Brazil in four previous attempts, losing 1-0 and 3-1 at the World Cups in 2006 and 2014 respectively, and 17/4 for them to progress here holds little appeal.
Brazil to win and over 2.5 goals looks a solid pick in the Croatia v Brazil odds at 23/20 or for a bigger price, Coral have a #YourCall option of 9/2 for Brazil to win both halves, score at least three goals and keep a clean sheet.
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All odds and markets are correct as of the date of publication