The Vatreni are doing it again. Croatia, after equalizing three minutes from time, created a new feat against Brazil, big favorites for the 2022 World Cup and eliminated (1-1 after 4-2 on pens) on Friday in the quarter-finals after another grueling penalty shootout.
The defending finalists, of whom now eight of the last nine double or quits have gone beyond regulation time, will be opposed on Tuesday in the semi-finals to the Netherlands or Argentina, who face each other in the evening.
A missed penalty shootout
Brazil can harbor great regrets because at the end of a very close tactical match, they managed to find the opening thanks to Neymar’s 77th goal, happy to equal Pelé in the 105th minute.
But while he has not beaten a European opponent in a knockout match since his coronation in 2002, the five-time winner of the event was joined by indestructible Vatreni. On the verge of asphyxiation and generally not very dangerous, they found the energy to push a last counter-attack, concretized by Petkovic (117).
During the fatal session, Rodrygo and Marquinhos missed their attempt while the four Croatian shooters, who had already had the opportunity to run in against Japan in 1/8, were a full hit.
Leaving at a trot and surely too confident, the Brazilians quickly understood after a first thrill caused by a cross from Pasalic (12) that it would not be the same walkover against the Croatian tacticians as against South Korea.
The Livakovic Wall
Patient, calm and perfectly squaring the midfield to block opponents’ breakthroughs high, “Vatreni” took a malicious pleasure thanks to their licked technique to thwart the Seleçao. Unable to rule out the game or to open axial breaches on too rare individual exploits, this one left it to Vinicius to light a few wicks.
Uninspired, the Tite players came back with better intentions after the break, but then they found Livakovic (47th, 55th, 66th, 76th, 120th), the hero of the day on the Croatian side, on their way. Entering into resistance, the Croats, in difficulty with a Modric not very visible to open up Kramaric in front and thus raise their block, then showed that they knew how to bow their backs if they did not really worry Alisson.
By dint of bumping into a wall, the Brazilians even seemed to get annoyed, receiving a handful of cards for poorly controlled gestures (Danilo, Casemiro, Marquinhos). Neymar’s opener against Croats blunted by all their previous efforts could have meant a quiet end to the game for the Brazilians, but it was misunderstanding the stubborn Croats who were able to snatch the equalizer at the same time as another penalty shootout.