Dalic says Croatia ready to take on challenge of beating 'scary' Brazil at World Cup

Runners-up in 2018 set to take on five-times winners in quarter-finals on Friday

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Zlatko Dalic has labelled the Brazil squad “scary” but reminded that his players are not “some big underdogs” as they prepare to face off in the World Cup quarter-final on Friday.

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, defeated Japan on penalties on Monday to book their spot in the last eight in Qatar, with Brazil then living up to their favourites tag by seeing off South Korea 4-1 in their last-16 clash. Tite’s side were 4-0 up by half-time at the 974 Stadium.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Dalic highlighted the differences between Friday’s rivals, but praised his team’s mental fortitude to get to this point. Croatia came from a goal down in normal time to eventually defeat Japan in the shoot-out.

"Brazil has 200 million people; we only have four million, so we're a bit like the suburb of a city in Brazil," the former Al Ain manager said. "It will be a different game than against anyone we have played so far, because Brazil likes to play football.

"If we are looking at it realistically, Brazil is the best team at the tournament. They have a great choice of players, a great squad – it's scary – so it's a great test for us."

Dalic, who guided Croatia to the final four years ago, said it "does not get any better" than going up against Brazil, the record five-time winners, at a World Cup.

"Maybe we'd rather it was in the final than the quarter-final, though," he said. "We want to give maximum effort … we won't surrender before the game.

“We want to counter Brazil's quality with our own and we want to play football against them."

No matter what happens at Education City Stadium on Friday, Croatia have still guaranteed their third-best finish at a World Cup. The Europeans were third in 1998, while last time out they were denied the title by France, beaten 4-2 in the final in Moscow.

However, Brazil represent a pretty obvious threat to their hopes of a repeat performance at least, especially with star player Neymar returning on Monday from the ankle injury he sustained in their opening game. The Paris Saint-Germain forward converted a penalty in the victory against South Korea.

"Brazil are favourites," Dalic said. 'You can tell they have a great atmosphere in the team; they have top world-class players; Neymar is back from injury.

"We have to be very smart in our approach. We can't open up too much against Brazil, but we also can't sit back. It's not 50-50, but we are not some big underdogs."

Updated: December 06, 2022, 11:40 AM