Today Friday (4 p.m./Servus-TV), the Brazilians who played magic for the last time awaited their first real test of endurance on their way to their sixth World Cup title with Croatia. Favorite Celicao would like to shine once again duel with the runners-up of the world’s great and effective attacking football thus offering many celebrations. The Croats showed great respect for Neymar and his partners.
The national team coach, Zlatko Dalic, even called Brazil “terrifying” after the five-time world champions produced an impressive celebration in the 4-1 round of 16 against South Korea. In the first half in particular (4:0), the Selecao team impressed with their enthusiasm, interesting combinations and efficiency. A recovered Neymar has performed at his best and should also be the main figure in Brazil’s group of stars going into the quarter-finals. For national coach Tite, the star is the “technical leader” of his team. “Every player has great quality, it’s the midfield that makes the others better,” confirmed the Brazil coach, who will probably have to dispense with regular left-back Alex Sandro against Croatia. Tite said the defender, who has a thigh injury, had completed final training “but the trend is that he can’t be there”. As a result, Danilo is likely to return to the left-back position, with regular centre-back Eder Militau returning to the right-back role.
In addition to Neymar, Richarlison and Vinicius Jr also want to score goals and thus put on more dance performances. The unusual celebration of Brazilians has drawn some criticism recently and has led to many discussions. However, Vinicius Jr. insisted that he and his bandmates would not stop dancing after the recording. “It’s an expression of happiness and part of Brazilian culture,” said the Real Madrid legionnaire.
Brazil is in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in a row, and the South American team was crowned world champion in 1994 and 2002 and runner-up in 1998. After the last title, the Selecao reached the semi-finals only once (2014). Brazil had gone undefeated in four previous encounters with Croatia, two of them in the World Cup, winning the Seleção 1-0 in 2006 and 3-1 as hosts in the opening match in 2014. At the time, there was a Neymar swallow that led to a penalty kick.
According to Croatia coach Dalic, the Selecao are “the strongest and best national team in the World Cup”, but the Checkers still see an opportunity. “It’s not a fifty-fifty match, but we’re not underdogs either. We’ll try to be good,” said Dalic. Full-back Borna Sosa declared his fitness again just in time, and frontrunner Marco Livaga could return to the starting line-up in place of the recently weakened Bruno Petkovic. For 37-year-old Luka Modric, who was the tournament’s best player four years ago, this could be the last match on the big World Cup stage. “If you have a recipe for how to stay young, please give it to me,” replied the Croatian captain on the occasion of the 2026 finals.
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