DOHA: In one of the most dramatic ends to the FIFA World Cup game in this edition, Croatia defeated Brazil on penalties to qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament. After the match remained goalless at the end of 90 minutes, it was Neymar who broke the deadlock in the first half of extra time to give Brazil the lead in the game. However, the euphoria didn’t last long as Bruno Petkovic slotted in the equalizer with three minutes remaining from the whistle. In the penalty shootout, Rodrygo missed the first penalty for Brazil while Marquihos missed the decisive won, while Croatia slammed all penalties home to win 4-2.
Croatia deserve all the credit for their game plan. They were playing right out of the hands of the individually talented Brazilians using the technical ability of their midfielders to keep a lot of slow possession, not allowing Brazil time and enough of the ball to create enough chances. So proficient was their ability to move the ball in midfield that Brazil were, at times, frightened of pressing them too intensely, in case space opens up in behind them. The strategy really brought them victory.
Livakovic was show-stopping in goal while Gvardiol was impressively composed and solid in defence, and Luka Modric was terrific in midfield. Croatia’s strategy was effective, but not enough to keep out a moment of genius from Neymar. Ultimately, Brazil conceded a soft goal, and failed to manage the game in the dying moments. Croatia’s fighting spirit went on a bit longer, and they stole the win at the end.
Brazil (4-3-3): Alisson; Militao, T. Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo; Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta, Neymar; Raphinha, Vinicius, Richarlison.
Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Pasalic, Perisic, Kramaric.
(sources: texts compiled from hindustannews/indianexpress)