Luka Modric and Croatia did the unthinkable — knock out World Cup favorites Brazil in the quarter-finals. Each of Real Madrid’s three Brazilian’s feature in the match, with notes on their play below:
Militao was once again plugged in at the right back position due to form and injuries within the Brazil squad. In his previous two outings in that spot, Militao was underwhelming and offered limited support in the final third. His match against Croatia was different — he was a titan in the back and improved his on-ball performance.
Croatia, especially in the first half, looked to exploit the weakside and hit diagnol or crossfield passes to Perisic. Militao expertly defended those switches, managing to get a headed clearance or a last ditch sliding tackle to prevent further danger. Perisic and Sosa have been a difficult tandem to contain for most teams, but Militao managed to keep both relatively quiet.
On the ball, Militao created some of Brazil’s most dangerous opportunities with low driven crosses from the byline. He was heavily involved with 102 touches and was a surprise replacement
in the 105th minute.
Militao ended the match with the following statistics:
- 3 completed tackles
- 2 interceptions
- 3 shots blocked
- 102 touches
- 70 passes (92% PA)
The electric left winger was not able to make the same impact as in previous matches with Croatia’s right back, Josip Juranovic, having one of the games of his life. Juranovic was able to keep up with Vini’s speed on more than one occasion and was ever-present in the attacking third. Vinicius was limited to a mere 21 touches and 8 passes, Brazil failed to get him involved. Four Croatian players: Juranovic, Lovren, Modric, and Brozovic all clogged the space of the Brazilian and blocked off passing lanes to deny Vinicius or Neymar receiving in dangerous areas. Vinicius was replaced by Rodrygo in the 64th minute and will be dissapointed with his game.
Questions will still be asked of Tite, especially for replacing a player like Vinicius Junior. As Madrid fans have seen in the past, even when Vini is quiet he can pop up with a game winning goal or assist at any moment. He has that superstar quality and those players don’t come off the pitch in do-or-die matches.
Rodrygo was a direct swap for Vinicius on the left wing. He was much more involved than his Real Madrid teammate and had more than double the touches and passes in about 10 minutes less of game time. It was Rodrygo’s movement from the left wing to a central position and then a quick one-two with Neymar that helped create the goal for Brazil. His tactical awareness to gradually move centrally as Danilo went wide, created a numerical superiority in zone 14 for Neymar to move and combine.
Despite his strong showing in the second half and in extra time, Rodrygo will be marked by one moment: he missed the opening penalty for Brazil in the shoot-out. At 21-years-old, he was the first to step up for Brazil but moment got to him. Rodrygo’s penalty was saved by the outstanding Livakovic. As Modric told the youngster post-game, this moment will only make him stronger. Vinicius and Rodrygo will have rabid hunger in 2026.