Croatia v Brazil
The World Cup Quarter Finals kick off with the 2018 runners-up Croatia taking on a Brazil side looking to avoid a second consecutive exit at this stage. Croatia wore Japan down and eventually managed to squeeze past them on penalties but Brazil are a far different prospect. While Brazil’s form makes them heavy favourites, there is no side left in the tournament more experienced at knockout football or more composed than Croatia and their Nations League victory over France in Paris this past summer shows they have the ability to be able to turn over any nation.
Brazil’s policy of having at least three or four very attacking players provides an interesting battle for supremacy in the middle of the park as Croatia are one of the few sides who will be able to beat Brazil’s press consistently by passing it out and getting opportunities for progressive balls into the channels and getting at the Brazilian defence on the deck bringing the solidity that challenged Brazil for long periods in their group games against Serbia and Switzerland while also providing a more incisive attacking threat than either of those sides provided.
Over all of this is that, should Brazil win, then this will surely be Luka Modric’s final World Cup game. That is a prospect that Modric and Croatia desperately want to avoid but it is a prospect that, if it seems likely at any point, you can be sure that the great man himself will provide some magic to defy time once again.
Perisic has an impressive record of scoring at least twice in every major international tournament since the 2014 World Cup. So far in Qatar, his two assists and one goal add up to a very decent tournament but history would suggest Perisic is due one more.
Added to that, Perisic has shot from outside of the box in every game so far. All of those shots have come close without yet forcing a save showing Perisic has the intent to take long range shots on and it’s hard to imagine a player of his quality will go much longer without one of those bringing a save or even making the scoresheet.
The calm and maturity with which Vinicius Junior, a young man of just 22 years old, is playing in his first World Cup is frightening. It looks like it was born to be there. He has defined with precision and helped his teammates with passes to shots.
Vini Jr has already played 166 minutes at Mundial, with 5 shots (2 on target), 1 goal scored and 0.64 expected goals (xG). It is important to remember that with 86% accuracy in the passes, he created 3 chances, gave 1 assist and had 0.4 expected assists (xA).
Against Japan, Brozovic completed an incredible 115 passes across the 120 minutes against Japan and, save against Canada where Croatia’s defensive responsibilities were lower, he has exceeded the 70 pass per game mark in each game at this World Cup so far.
Against Japan, his work rate was so high because of a rare off-day for Luka Modric and that game should be taken as an anomaly. But even with that caveat, breaking 70 passes is the norm for him and, if things go to extra time, as all but one of Croatia’s knockout games since France 98 have done, getting close to a century of passes isn’t beyond him.
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