(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
Al RAYYAN: The Round of 16 is now complete, and the final eight standing teams will now compete for a semi-finals position. Brazil and Croatia will lock horns at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the quarter-finals on Friday. It will mark just the fifth time these two football nations have played each other, and the third in the history of this competition.
Brazil clinched a spot in the final eight with a commanding 4-1 win over Korea, leading at halftime by four goals. Vinicius Jr, Neymar, Richarlison, and Lucas Paqueta all scored as Tite's side dominated the first 45 minutes.
Paik Seung-ho grabbed one back with 15 seconds remaining, but it was too late for the Koreans. Croatia entered the last-eight match having played an extra 30 minutes following a 1-1 draw inside 90 minutes in their round-of-16 clash with Japan. The 2018 runners-up triumphed on penalties, with goalkeeper Dominik Livakovi stopping three.
The last time these two sides met was in a friendly four years ago as they prepared for the World Cup in Russia. Brazil was eliminated in the quarter-finals, while Croatia advanced to the final before being defeated by France. But it was the South Americans who appeared ready for business in that June friendly, defeating their opponents 2-0.
Midfield stalwart Luka Modric is an ever-present fixture for his national side and will lead them out on Friday. The Brazilians have also changed their lineup in the last four years, and their firepower up top is unrivalled. In addition to Neymar, they have Vinicius Jr, Raphinha, and Richarlison, not to mention a plethora of talent on the bench.
The head-to-head record does not bode well for Croatia's chances in the forthcoming quarter-final, with Brazil leading the series. The South Americans have won three of the four games they have played, with a friendly in 2005 resulting in a draw. Two of their three triumphs have come in this competition, the first in 2006 and the second in the tournament's opening game in 2014.
Croatia would need a historic first-ever win over Brazil to reach the World Cup semi-finals in 2022 if they are to advance to the final four.
Match starts at 8:30 PM IST.
Croatia, Serbia Fined For Balkan Statements
The Croatian and Serbian soccer federations were fined by FIFA on Wednesday for making Balkan political statements at the World Cup.
FIFA fined the Croatians 50,000 Swiss francs ($53,000) after the team's fans verbally abused and taunted Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian family ties.
The Serbian soccer federation was fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($21,300) for a political banner about neighbouring Kosovo displayed in the locker room before playing Brazil in the team's opening game.
It showed a map of Serbia that included the territory of its former province, which has been an independent state for nearly 15 years, and the slogan“No Surrender.”
The Kosovo soccer federation formally complained to FIFA about the banner, which was hung over two Serbia players' lockers on Nov. 24.
FIFA said the charge against Croatia related to“use of words and objects to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports event.”
Borjan was born in an ethnic Serbian region of Croatia. He and his family left their hometown in 1995 when it was taken by Croatian forces. The ethnic Serbs are said to have fled on tractors.
During Canada's 4-1 loss on Nov. 27, one banner displayed by Croatia fans used a flag of tractor manufacturer John Deere and changed the marketing slogan to target Borjan.
FIFA also fined Saudi Arabia 30,000 Swiss francs ($32,000) for“team misconduct” after getting six yellow cards in games against Argentina and Mexico. (AP)
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