For the second successive World Cup and for the third time in their history, Croatia will be competing in the quarter-finals on the biggest international stage after beating Japan 3-1 on penalties in the last 16 on Monday.
Croatia are no strangers to drama at the highest level of international football, as they have been taken to extra time in seven of their last eight knockout matches at major tournaments since finishing third at their first World Cup finals back in 1998.
Dalic and co are unbeaten in their last 10 internationals and have lost only one of their last 20 games across all competitions since Euro 2020, but this impressive run is set to be tested by a high-flying Brazil outfit who head into Friday’s contest off the back of their best performance at this year’s tournament in Qatar against South Korea.
The Brazilian flair and swagger that football fans across the globe are accustomed to when watching the five-time world champions was on show on Monday, as Tite’s side sambaed their way into the quarter-finals courtesy of a 4-1 victory over South Korea in the last 16.
Since beating Germany 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final, Brazil have lost each of their last five knockout matches against European nations in the competition.
Croatia duo Borna Sosa and Josip Stanisic both missed the win over Japan due to illness and a muscle injury respectively; the former should be available to return and could replace Borna Barisic at left-back, while the latter remains doubtful and will be assessed ahead of kickoff.
Dalic is unlikely to make too many changes to his starting lineup, with midfield maestros Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic all expected to retain their places on Friday – both Modric and Kovacic are just one booking away from suspension along with Barisic and Dejan Lovren.
Militao is one of three Selecao stars along with Fred and Bruno Guimaraes who are only one yellow card away from missing a potential semi-final bout, and the latter two are expected to begin again on the substitutes’ bench, with Casemiro and Paqueta preferred by Tite to start in centre-midfield.
Star attacker Neymar recovered from an ankle injury to start and score against South Korea, and he is poised to continue in an advanced role in between wingers Raphinha and Vinicius Junior, while Richarlison is set to lead the line up front.
Possible starting lineup:
Data will be available at kick off time or sooner.
Croatia = 27.7%
Draw = 23.1%
Brazil = 49.2%
Croatia 1-1 Brazil
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