2022 World Cup Preview, Predictions and Lineups: Croatia vs Brazil

Croatia and Brazil meet in the first quarter-final matchup of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Friday at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan. Tite’s side have been one of the favorites to go all the way in this year’s tournament and are expected to continue in their impressive form up against the 2018 finalists. Below is our Croatia vs Brazil preview, predictions and potential lineups for their World Cup quarter-final clash.

Croatia vs Brazil Preview

Brazil blew South Korea away in their round of 16 tie, going four goals ahead after just 36 minutes. Roy Keane may have been angered at the dancing celebrations of the Seleção but the Brazilians will be expected to continue the carnival atmosphere on Friday and they head into the game as heavy favorites with their joga bonito approach.

A intimidating offense of Neymar, Richarlison, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Gabriel Martinelli is capable of scaring any defense at the World Cup, especially since the latter has started just one match in Qatar. The incredible depth of Brazil’s team makes them likely to go all the way – we haven’t even mentioned Manchester United’s Antony yet.

Croatia labored to victory against Japan, sneaking through on penalties after the two sides couldn’t be separated following 120 minutes of football. The Vatreni were far from their best against the Blue Samurai and lacked quality up top but goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the hero, saving three penalties in the shootout.

However, an elite midfield of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic is capable of beating anyone on their day. Nonetheless, the sheer quality throughout Brazil’s squad means that Croatia will have their work cut out here.

Croatia have a rich history of performing well in the knockout rounds, once they actually get there, and so that will offer some hope for the Vatreni. Although, it does usually take until extra time to do so, with all three of their last World Cup knockout ties, excluding the 2018 final, being decided either on penalties or after 120 minutes. Croatia got past both Denmark and Russia on penalties at the last World Cup, before defeating England 2-1 after extra time.

Team News

Gabriel Jesus has recently undergone surgery on his right knee after suffering damage against Cameroon in the final group match but he will now miss the rest of the tournament. Neymar’s ankle injury that kept him out of the last two group stage matches doesn’t seem to be lingering and the Paris Saint-Germain forward looked at his best against South Korea on Monday so he should be ready for this one.

Juventus’ Alex Sandro started both of the first two group matches against Serbia and Switzerland for Tite’s side but he has now missed the last two due to a hip injury. The Brazil head coach doesn’t seem to want to take any chance of causing further damage to aggravate the injury but there is hope that Sandro can return for the quarter-final matchup. That would be a big boost to the team since their other left-back option Alex Telles suffered a serious knee injury against Cameroon that ended his time in Qatar.

As for Croatia, starting left-back Borna Sosa was absent for their last 16 victory against Japan after picking up a virus. However, Zlatko Dalic is expected to have the Stuttgart defender back for this one. Rangers’ Borna Barisic struggled a little with the pace of Junya Ito in that match so Sosa’s return will be very much welcomed up against an electric Brazilian offense.

Dalic has seen very little from any of his forward options this winter with Bruno Petkovic, Marko Livaja and Ante Budimir all offering very little against Japan. However, Livaja was able to get on the scoresheet against Canada in the group stages so he offers some goalscoring form at least.


Croatia and Brazil last met in competitive action back at the 2014 World Cup, where a Neymar brace helped the host nation run out 3-1 winners. A number of changes have occurred to both sides since then, with just Neymar, Thiago Silva and Dani Alves remaining in the Brazil squad at this year’s tournament from the eleven that played the Vatreni back then.

A number of changes have occurred with Croatia too but Modric, Kovacic, Ivan Perisic and Dejan Lovren still remain from the starting lineup in 2014. Of course, the biggest loss for Croatia is the absence of Mario Mandzukic. The 36-year-old may still be on the sidelines as assistant but his presence has been severely missed on the pitch and will likely stop Dalic’s men from matching a performance like in 2018 when they reached the final.

Potential Lineups:

Croatia (4-3-3): Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Andrej Kramaric, Marko Livaja, Ivan Perisic

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Eder Militao, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta; Raphinha, Neymar, Vinicius Junior; Richarlison

Final Prediction

Croatia 0-2 Brazil

Despite some toothless performances in Qatar, Croatia’s excellent run of form continues. They are currently on a ten-match unbeaten streak, with their last defeat coming back in June against Austria. They certainly won’t be as easy to beat as South Korea and we expect the Vatreni to put up a stern fight against the Seleção.

However, the lack of threat up top should be the difference between the two sides and we’re expecting Brazil’s incredible offense to overpower the solidity of the Croatian defense and midfield. With any real lack of pace of quality going forward for Croatia, there seems to be very little that could damage Brazil defensively and the likes of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva should comfortably deal with any threat.

Therefore, we’re backing a 2-0 Brazil win over Croatia in the first quarter-final of Qatar 2022 where either European outfit the Netherlands or South American rivals Argentina await them in the semis.