Kick-off: 1500, 09/12/2022
Stadium: Education City Stadium
Brazil put on an exhibition when brushing aside South Korea and it is hard to see Croatia living with them if they are in a similar mood.
The 2018 runners-up were taken all the way to penalties by Japan and the signs are that star man Luka Modric is feeling his age at 37.
We like 3/1 for the Selecao to win by any two-goal margin for our first Croatia vs Brazil prediction.
Croatia rode their luck late on in a goalless stalemate with Belgium at the end of the group stage, having also drawn with Morocco before beating Canada 4-1.
The hope was that their experience would stand them in good stead as the tournament progressed but they were given the run-around by Japan in the first half.
Zlatko Dalic’s side did improve after the break and another valiant veteran, Ivan Perisic, cancelled out Daizen Maeda’s opener with a fine header.
After extra-time failed to produce a decider, goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved tame penalties from Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida to send his team through.
“He saved each of the penalties in a very strong and stable manner,” commented Dalic.
“We practised penalties in training and he made several saves. He installed this confidence and I was sure he would show that capacity again.
“We couldn’t be dominant, but we have shown a strength of character. We are a small nation but we fight for what we want.”
Croatia won shoot-outs against Denmark and Russia on route to reaching the final four years ago, so they are proven performers in that department.
However, they will be lucky to get to spot-kicks here on all the evidence we have seen so far in Qatar.
Looking at the 21/20 for the Selecao to win to nil in regular time.
Brazil were professional in winning their first two group games against Serbia and Switzerland before Tite rang the changes for a surprise loss to Cameroon.
The big guns were back to take on South Korea at the last-16 stage, though, including Neymar, who had sat out a couple of games with an ankle problem.
The Selecao’s talismanic number 10 successfully converted a penalty after Vinicius Junior had broken the deadlock on seven minutes with a composed strike.
Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta added further first-half goals by finishing off some sublime build-up play and the tie was over before the break due to a masterclass of attacking ability.
South Korea showed spirit in the second period and forced Liverpool keeper Alisson to make several solid saves before a deflected Paik Seung-ho shot finally gave them a consolation score.
“I was afraid of not being able to play in this World Cup again but I did not feel any pain in my ankle,” said a relieved Neymar.
“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.”
Bwin are offering a price boost of 4/1 for Neymar to open the scoring here!
Croatia should provide much more resistance than a shambolic South Korea defence but Brazil resembled the Samba Stars of old and are hard to resist.
It is 21/4 for a 2-0 success is also added to our Croatia vs Brazil betting tips.
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