The quarterfinals of the World Cup begin with perhaps one of the more one-sided matchups as pre-tournament favorites Brazil, who have looked every inch the part, face off against Croatia at the Education City Stadium. The latter were the beaten finalists in 2018 but have not won a knockout game in normal time at a World Cup or European Championships since 1998.
In reality, Croatia’s best chance might be to hold out for penalties again, hoping that their dominance of possession can at least limit the opportunities Neymar and company get to test their backline. This will certainly be an almighty test for Zlatko Dalic’s side, but stranger things have happened at a World Cup. Here is how you can watch the match and what you need to know:
How to watch and odds
Date: Friday, Dec. 9 | Time: 10 a.m. ET
Location: Education City Stadium — Al Rayyan
TV: Fox and Telemundo | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Odds: Croatia +750; Draw +375; Brazil -275 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Croatia: It is hardly a ringing endorsement of your chances when in the build-up to kickoff your manager describes your opponents as terrifying, but there was no better word for Dalic when assessing the array of attacking weapons that his opposite number Tite will have at his disposal. “Brazil is the most powerful and the best national team at the World Cup,” said the Croatian manager. “What I’ve seen so far, when you take a look at their selection of players, their quality, skills and value, then it is indeed terrifying.
“I think we have a great exam ahead of us, a tough task against the team which plays great soccer with so many good quality and fast players.” It may not be 50/50 but Dalic would warn against taking Croatia for granted. If his players get even the faintest hint that Brazil might, then it is sure to light a fire under them.
Brazil: All is so rosy in the Brazil camp that talking points rather have to be manufactured at the moment; the dancing of Tite and his players as they celebrated another goal in their crushing win over South Korea caused something of a media storm when there was little to say about the game itself beyond “how good do Brazil look?” Tite, 61, saw no reason to apologize for “our culture,” adding: “It is a connection I have with the younger generation — they could be my grandchildren,” he said. “If I have to dance to be connected with them I will continue to dance.”
He may well have plenty of cause to, the front-footed football that Brazil are delivering is a joy for neutrals as well as his players. Still, as the tension and difficulty level ratchets up, one wonders whether he might be tempted to add some solidity to his side, perhaps replacing Lucas Paqueta with the more defensive-minded Fred. The rest of the team, however, is a machine humming at peak level.
Croatia have not really played like a quarterfinalist in most of this tournament. Brazil have played like a potential winner. This could get very one-sided. PICK: Croatia 0, Brazil 3