Neymar vs Brozovic & Other Key Battles When Brazil Face Croatia

Croatia and Brazil go head-to-head on Friday for a place in the 2022 World Cup semi-finals in Qatar.

Croatia had to dig deep to defeat Japan in a penalty shootout to book their place in the final eight after the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic became the hero in the penalty shootout as he saved three of the four Japan penalties.

Brazil, meanwhile, turned on the heat in the quarter-finals and smashed South Korea 4-1. The Selecao raced into a four-goal lead within the first 36 minutes against the South Koreans, sending a statement to the rest of the teams at the World Cup.

On that note, here are three key battles that could define the outcome of the mouthwatering quarter-finals tie between Croatia and Brazil.

#Luka Modric vs Casemiro

In the middle of the park, a midfield battle between Luka Modric and Casemiro could well hold the key to which nation will emerge victorious at the end of the 90 minutes.

Lining up possibly on the right side of a midfield three, Modric is the heartbeat of this Croatian side and will look to set the tempo of the game with his passing, reading of the game and experience. He has got a fantastic passing range, vision and ability to get past players with ease. In fact, when he plays well, Croatia generally fly; so he is absolutely crucial to Zlatko Dalic’s team.

Casemiro will have a task on his hand to nullify Modric’s influence in the game. The 30-year-old, who is one of the first names on Tite’s team sheet, is one of the world’s best defensive midfielders and he will have to be at his sublime best to prevent Modric from getting enough space and time on the ball in midfield.

So, it will be intriguing to see how this midfield battle pans out.

#Richarlison vs Croatia’s centre-backs

Richarlison is arguably one of the best-performing forwards in the ongoing World Cup and his contributions to the Brazil team have been superb.

With three goals in as many games, the 25-year-old’s confidence is at its peak at the moment and can hurt Croatia if given an opportunity. With his physicality, clever movement and raw pace, Richarlison can give Croatia’s centre-backs a difficult time on Friday.

Standing in front of the Brazil striker will be Croatia’s centre-backs—Josko Gvardiol and Dejan Lovren. Gvardiol has been one of the best centre-backs at the World Cup, impressing with his composure on the ball, maturity and decision-making. He has formed a strong partnership with Lovren at the back, and the duo will need to keep things very tight to stop Richarlison from having a sniff on goal.

#Neymar vs Marcelo Brozovic

Getting Neymar fit and firing in the round of 16 against South Korea was invaluable for Brazil, after the Selecao star had injured his ankle in their group-stage opener against Serbia.

Neymar’s quality and ability to decide games on his own is something the whole world knows. The PSG attacker’s dribbling skills, goal-scoring prowess and ability to create enough room for his teammates to exploit makes him a special player.

Croatia cannot afford Neymar to roam with the ball in and around the box, and that is where Dalic could task Marcelo Brozovic to take extra care of Brazil’s talisman. Brozovic’s ability to stop opposition attacks and win possession back for his team is excellent. He is a smart player and his experience in such a big game will come in handy for the 2018 World Cup finalists.

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