We’re getting closer and closer to the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and as such, there are international friendlies to be found all across the globe. Teams who aren’t competing in Russia are licking their wounds and preparing for the next tournament they can qualify for, whereas the nations that are indeed flying out in a few weeks will be getting ready for a summer full of twists, turns and plenty of notable moments.
One venue which was particularly newsworthy this afternoon was Anfield, as Brazil and Croatia squared off in their penultimate warm-up match before they kick things off in the group stage. In many ways, it was a paint by numbers occasion, but in the end, Brazil proved why they’re considered to be one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy as they ran out 2-0 winners.
The first half was certainly intriguing despite neither team hitting the back of the net, as Dejan Lovren and Andrej Kramaric both came close to giving Croatia a surprise lead. It definitely felt like they were trying to send a message to the teams in their group as they played with a great deal of physicality and intensity, but alas, they weren’t able to translate that into what would’ve been a morale-boosting victory.
Neymar, who has been out through injury, announced his return to the spotlight with just under half an hour to play as he scored a fantastic goal to calm any worries that the Brazil faithful may have had regarding his fitness. Liverpool’s own Roberto Firmino then sealed the win in injury time, proving that he’s clearly put the club’s disappointing Champions League final defeat behind him.
Both teams felt like they were starting to step things up a gear with the World Cup being just around the corner, and that’s the most exciting aspect of the entire game. Brazil will aim to keep their momentum going as they take on Austria next Sunday before opening their campaign against Switzerland in two weeks time.
Croatia, on the other hand, will face Senegal on Friday before beginning their WC journey against Nigeria on June 16th, twenty-four hours before Brazil, who they played in the opening game of the 2014 tournament.
Brazil: Becker (7), Danilo (6), Silva (6.5), Miranda (6.5), Marquinhos (N/A), Marcelo (7), Filipe Luis (6), Willian (7), Taison (N/A), Casemiro (7), Fernandinho (6.5), Neymar (8), Paulinho (6.5), Jesus (6), Firmino (8), Coutinho (6.5), Fred (N/A)
Croatia: Subasic (6), Vrsaljko (6.5), Jedvaj (N/A), Corluka (6), Caleta-Car (6), Lovren (6), Vida (6.5), Badelj (6.5), Brozovic (6), Rakitic (6), Bradaric (N/A), Rebic (6), Pjaca (6.5), Modric (6.5), Kovacic (6.5), Perisic (6), Kramaric (5.5)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Goals: Neymar, Firmino
Yellow Cards: Fernandinho, Rakitic, Perisic, Kramaric
Red Cards: N/A
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