Tite’s side danced their way past South Korea in the last-16 stage as Neymar returned from injury, and he showed no signs of being hampered by that ankle issue as he notched his 76th international goal to move within one of Pele’s record.
Alex Sandro missed the match, and the group-stage defeat to Cameroon, with a hip injury, and Tite insisted ahead of the South Korea tie that Brazil would be cautious with the left-back’s fitness.
”He hasn’t fully recovered yet and we do not intend to take any risks,” the Brazil boss said.
Indeed, Sandro is not fit to start so Danilo continues in his place. Alex Telles, the other left-back in the squad, has already been ruled out for the rest of the tournament, along with Gabriel Jesus.
The other key decision came in midfield, with Tite potentially wanting a bit more security against a Croatian side so talented on the ball. Fred, however, does not start alongside Casemiro, meaning Lucas Paqueta keeps his spot.
As for Croatia, left-back Borna Sosa missed the win over Japan due to illness, having started all three of his side’s group-stage matches. He returns to the starting line-up here, meaning Rangers’ Borna Barisic has to settle for a place on the bench.
The rest of the team largely picks itself, with Josko Gvardiol, one of the centre-backs of the tournament so far, partnering Dejan Lovren, and the key trio of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic lining up in midfield.
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Bruno Petkovic has been dropped following a poor showing against Japan. Neither Ante Budimir or Marko Livaja were much better when they came on, the latter producing a woeful penalty in the shootout, so Mario Pasalic comes in to reinforce the midfield instead.
Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the star of that shootout, making three saves, and he is likely to be a busy man once again as he comes up against a Brazilian attack in fine form.
Croatia XI: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Brozovic, Modric, Kovacic; Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic.
Brazil XI: Alisson; Militao, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo; Casemiro, Paqueta; Vinicius Jr, Neymar, Raphinha; Richarlison.