Brazil will take on Croatia in the third confirmed World Cup quarterfinal in Qatar following the two nations’ victories in the round of 16 on Monday.
Thanks to yesterday’s matches, we now know three of the four matchups in the last eight of the 2022 tournament.
Also on Brazil/Croatia’s side of the draw is Argentina v the Netherlands. A World Cup semi-final between two South American sides is very much on the cards as a result. Meanwhile, on the other side, England v France is the only confirmed quarterfinal.
Spain face Morocco and Portugal play Switzerland to determine the last two spots available in the next round.
Yesterday, though, Croatia went through in a nail-biter.
Croatia 1-1 Japan (Croatia win 3-1 on penalties)
Croatia fought past a tough Japan side to reach the quarterfinals via a penalty shootout.
Contrary to the cagey game that many expected, the first half played out with a flurry of chances for both sides. Japan constantly threatened with many searching crosses into the box, which unfortunately they could not convert.
However, Croatia kept their opponents honest with opportunities of their own. For instance, Ivan Perisic had a good chance saved after some high pressing from the 2018 finalists.
Celtic’s Daizen Maeda was a bright spot for the Samurai Blue; his tenacity led to a chance for Daichi Kamada, but the midfielder lifted his shot over the bar.
As the first half reached its end, Maeda finally got a reward for his energetic performance. Another Japan cross ended up at Maya Yoshida, whose touch found Maeda. The striker then tucked the ball home to give Japan a deserved advantage heading into the break.
Croatia soon responded after the interval. A long cross from Dejan Lovren found Ivan Perisic, who placed his header perfectly in the far bottom corner to even the game at one-all. With this goal, Perisic tied Davor Suker as his country’s all-time leading World Cup scorer.
Following the equaliser, the match became a more tense affair. Endo and Modric both had speculative efforts saved at either end as both defences stood solid.
As a result, we had our first extra time of Qatar 2022. Even this additional 30 minutes could not separate the sides, though – so, penalties beckoned.
Sadly, Japan suffered heartbreak in the shootout. A trio of tame efforts saw three Japan penalties saved. In contrast, Croatia showed their experience by converting three out of four to reach the next round.
Brazil 4-1 South Korea
Brazil produced a devastating display against South Korea to clinch a berth in the World Cup quarterfinals.
It took the Selecao just seven minutes to make the breakthrough during a dazzling first half. A cut back from Raphinha ran through to Vinicius Jr at the back post. After composing himself with his first touch, the winger curled the ball through a melee of Korean defenders to score.
Cue the first of numerous samba dance celebrations.
Minutes later, Brazil earned a penalty with which to double their advantage. Some great work by Richarlison led to Jung Woo-Young making slight contact with the Spurs man’s foot. Neymar duly slotted home the spot-kick.
Unfortunately, a shell-shocked Korea could not deal with Brazil’s fluid attack. At 30 minutes, the five-time world champions had effectively sealed the win.
A wonderful show of skill and strength from Richarlison allowed him to feed the ball to Marquinhos. He found Thiago Silva on the edge of the box, who played in Richarlison via a first-time pass. Brazil’s No.9 then slotted home their third goal in half an hour, celebrating with yet more dancing.
Lucas Paqueta bagged Brazil’s fourth goal in 36 minutes, giving them a 4-0 lead at the break. In contrast to the jubilant leaders, Korea now had to focus on damage limitation in the second half.
To their credit, the Asian side created chances after halftime. Korea forced Alisson into action multiple times, for example via shots from Heung-min Son and Hwang Hee-chan.
With fifteen minutes remaining, South Korea finally got a goal. Following a free kick, the ball came out to Paik Seung-Ho, who rifled a shot past Alisson thanks to a slight deflection.
Thanks to the 4-1 win, Brazil will be riding a wave of confidence ahead of playing Croatia on Friday.
Confirmed World Cup QFs after Brazil and Croatia wins
Croatia v Brazil: 9 December, 3pm kick-off
Netherlands v Argentina: 9 December, 7pm kick-off
Spain/Morocco v Portugal/Switzerland: 10 December, 3pm kick-off
England v France: 10 December, 7pm kick-off
Featured image credit: Getty