Brazil are in the World Cup quarter-finals for the eighth-consecutive tournament and, of their previous seven appearances, they have made it to the semi-finals on four occasions. However, three of those came between 1994 and 2002, with the Selecao struggling to get past this hurdle in more recent tournaments. Since reaching the final in 2002, Brazil have been knocked out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage in three of the past four tournaments. The only exception was in 2014 when they made it to the semi-finals, but they won’t have fond memories of that due to a certain 7-1 defeat.
Tite’s men were pre-tournament favourites for Qatar and still hold that crown as the numbers decrease, with just three wins between them and a sixth World Cup title. In the last 16, Brazil had a potentially tricky tie against a South Korea side that had beaten Portugal in their final group game to seal passage to the knockouts, but they made light work with a 4-1 victory.
After the game, while some were focusing on the performance of the Brazil team, others took offence to the players’ celebrations for their goals which saw almost-choreographed dances. One pundit who particularly took exception was Roy Keane, who compared it to Strictly Come Dancing and called it disrespectful.
“Fantastic finish by Vinicius, great start to the game. But I’ve never seen so much dancing,” he said on ITV’s coverage of the game.
“I can’t believe what I’m watching, I can’t believe what I’m watching, it’s like watching Strictly.
He added: “I don’t like this. People say it’s their culture. But I think that’s really disrespecting the opposition.
“It’s four goals, and they are doing it every time. I don’t mind so much the first jig, it’s the one after that, and the manager getting involved. I’m not happy about it. I don’t think it’s good at all.”
A lot of fans, from South America in particular, defended Brazil’s players and now Vinicius has promised more celebrations as the Selecao continue in the competition.
“Sure, some love to complain when they see other people’s happiness and we Brazilians are a joyful people, so it will always bother them,” he told reporters.
“The goal is the most important moment in football, in a World Cup it is even more important so it’s a moment of joy not only for us, players, but for our entire country.
“We still have many celebrations ready, so we need to keep playing better, winning games and stay joyful in the process.
“We need to stay calm and focus because there are more people with us than against us.”
Croatia will be hoping they can cut the dancing on Friday. The European nation have only made it out of the group stage three times at the World Cup from six appearances since making their debut as an independent nation in 1998. However, on the two previous occasions they have advanced past the group, Croatia have made it to at least the semi-finals. In their first World Cup appearance Croatia finished third while, of course, in 2018 they were losing finalists – beaten by France on both occasions.
Those previous quarter-final appearances were built off of wins, but this year Croatia have been more about just not losing. In four games so far, Croatia have won just once in 90 minutes — beating Canada in the group stage — and drawn three times. On top of the two goalless draws with Morocco and Belgium, Croatia then came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with Japan in the last 16 – before eventually going through on penalties.
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As mentioned, Croatia have drawn three games at the World Cup so far, with two of those goalless stalemates in the group stage. While they have shown some strength in front of goal against Canada and Japan, Croatia do still struggle at times and they face a Brazil defence that has the second-lowest xGA at the World Cup (1.43).
Although Brazil showed they don’t need Neymar to be successful, they are a much better team when he is on the pitch and on form. As a result, Croatia will no doubt be targeting the PSG man who is averaging 6.71 fouls won per 90 minutes at the World Cup.