The 2018 runners-up will have their task cut out against the five-time champions.
Brazil will face Croatia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, with both teams aiming to reach the tournament’s final. Croatia, who came second in the 2018 World Cup, defeated Japan on penalties in the round of 16. While Brazil routed South Korea 4-1 in the same round. Brazil are big favourites to win the tournament and might face either Argentina or the Netherlands in the semi-finals if they eliminate Croatia.
In this article, we take a look at the best possible combined XI from players of both teams.
Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (Liverpool)
Alisson Becker has been outstanding for Brazil, conceding only one goal during the competition. The Liverpool goalkeeper’s reflexes and ability to stretch his body have allowed him to stop seemingly impossible shots. Allison started ahead of Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson, demonstrating how important he is to Brazil. Tite will hope the Liverpool custodian can keep a clean-sheet against Croatia.
Right back: Eder Militao (Real Madrid)
Although Militao is not playing in his favoured place, the Real Madrid star has performed admirably at right-back following the injuries to Alex Telles and Sandro, which forced Danilo to shift to left-back. Militao’s defensive expertise has enabled him to flourish in that position and support Raphinha effectively.
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Centre Back: Marquinhos (PSG)
Forwards have struggled to break through the defensive pairing of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva. The PSG player has been encouraging in the World Cup. His understanding of the game helps him to assess forwards and ensure efficient tackles that result in possession being recovered. Despite his diminutive frame, Marquinhos excels in the air and can pose a threat on set pieces. He and Thiago Silva represent Brazil’s defensive backbone.
Centre back: Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)
Gvardiol has been one of the top centre-backs in Qatar (Courtesy: Times Now)
The 20-year-old defender has risen to the fore at the 2022 World Cup. Gvardiol’s performance against Japan once again drew the attention of Europe’s top clubs. His tall stature and strong physicality make him an intimidating defender. For a 20-year-old, he also has an immense understanding of the sport.
As he prepares for Brazil’s foray, Gvardiol will have to be at his sharpest as he will be up against a talented team.
Left-back: Borna Sosa (VfB Stuttgart)
Borna Sosa, a left-back for German club VfB Stuttgart, is another youngster who has made a name for himself at the World Cup. He also scored many crucial goals in qualifying, propelling his country to the World Cup. Sosa’s ability to assist in the buildup and drop deep in matches gives Croatia flexibility, and it will be a vital trait of his that will help Croatia keep Brazil’s forwards at bay and be able to penetrate their defence.
Right midfield: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Luca Modric is ideally suited for a side that likes to generate space and exploit high-pressing opponents. Modric is an orchestra player who puts a premium on big games. Despite his age, he almost always covers the full field to assist, build space and create chances.
The Real Madrid midfielder’s service will be fundamental, as will be his skills that will enable Croatia in breaking down Brazil’s defence, which has conceded only two goals and the fewest shots in this World Cup.
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Central midfield: Casemiro (Manchester United)
He scored the winner against Switzerland (Courtesy: FIFA)
Casemiro has been Brazil’s brightest midfielder in the World Cup because of the way he has executed his role and his ability to bring so much elegance to the attack while also supporting the defenders. He also has a goal to his name having scored the winner against Switzerland in the group stages.
Casemiro will know how to shred Croatia’s midfield with his strong tackling and breaking their play when he confronts his old friend Luka Modric.
Left midfield: Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea)
Croatia’s engine, Kovacic and Modric, are two midfielders who determine and control the game. Kovacic sits deep and plays as a versatile midfielder. He can play everywhere in midfield, although he more commonly plays deep-lying midfielder and complements other players to keep the ball moving. If Croatia lose the ball, he is the first to press.
He will be vital in transferring the ball up the field against Brazil. His service will be critical in overpowering the likes of Casemiro and Lucas Paqueta.
Attacking midfield: Neymar (PSG)
Neymar has played as a makeshift offensive midfielder, sitting behind Vinicius Jr and Richarlison. He is more of a facilitator, assisting the team in building an assault from the centre of the pitch. Neymar doesn’t have to move much with Vinicius on the right flank because his defence-breaking deliveries are enough to produce goals.
Neymar, who only played two World Cup matches due to injury, scored his 76th international goal against South Korea. He is two shy of breaking Brazil great Pele’s all-time goalscoring record.
Left forward: Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
His quick feet and quickness facilitate him to outrun defenders and exploit wide spaces. Vinicius, aside from his unique qualities, can work effectively with his teammates and has excellent passing ability. He has grown in so many areas, including his finishing. With two goals already in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Real Madrid player will try to wreak havoc on Croatia with his blistering speed and dribbling.
Right forward: Richarlison (Tottenham Hotspur)
Richarlison has already scored three goals in FIFA World Cup 2022 (Courtesy: FotMob)
Richarlison was chastised for failing to score for Tottenham in the Premier League and for his showboating. However, with the national team, he has been a different player with his tactical awareness, infiltrating defence with unexpected runs, and striking abilities. The 25-year-old has already scored three goals and is in contention to win the Golden Boot.
When Brazil takes on Croatia, he will be ready to produce once more. Richarlison’s ability to pull defenders away from their positions, as well as his aerial skills, will assist Brazil in the quarter-finals.
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