From dancing to desolation: Neymar's World Cup heartbreak

Neymar crying after penalty shootout - Croatia knock Brazil out of the World Cup on penalties – live reaction - Darko Bandic/AP
Neymar crying after penalty shootout - Croatia knock Brazil out of the World Cup on penalties – live reaction - Darko Bandic/AP

Croatia 1(4) Brazil 1(2)

Oliver Brown, Chief Sports Writer, in Doha

Neymar crumpled to the ground, a diagram of desolation. A World Cup meant to have been his to conquer was instead derailed by a Croatian team who had mustered five shots on target all night, penalties included. One moment, he was celebrating a sumptuous solo goal, vaulting alongside Pele as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer. The next, he was surveying a scene of the purest horror, the dancing exuberance with which his country had embraced this tournament stilled for good.

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In the circumstances, it warmed the heart to see Ivan Perisic’s two young children running to the centre circle to console him. Such is the innocence of youth. But a more troubling question assailed Neymar on this bleak Doha night: why had he not taken one of the four Brazilian penalties? Why did it fall to Marquinhos, a centre-half, to risk the wrath of a nation by hitting the post, and not their record-equalling No 10?

According to Brazil’s plan, Neymar would be fifth in line for the shoot-out, setting him up to play the hero. But as the emblem of this side, Neymar should have had the gumption to walk first to the spot, to set the tempo. Instead, as he waited for the coup de grace that never came, Croatia built an inexorable momentum, consigning Tite’s golden generation to the grisliest fate. Not that the veteran manager, having presided over two straight quarter-final exits, claimed to regret the decision over the running order. “The fifth is the decisive one,” he explained. “There is more pressure, and the players who are more prepared for it are best equipped to cope.”

Tite confirms his resignation

It was all meant to be different this time, now that Brazil had assembled a squad of unparalleled depth and quality. But tiny Croatia, a land with a quarter of the population of Sao Paulo, saw to it that the wait for a sixth title would extend to at least 24 years. The repercussions did not end there. An hour later, Tite, the head coach, confirmed that he would have to step aside.

Remarkably, Brazil have still not beaten European opposition in the World Cup knockout rounds since 2014. That aberration stood ready to be rectified when Neymar, blunt in his impact for 105 minutes, sprang luminously into life, conjuring a couple of deft one-twos with Rodyrgo and Pedro, jinking around Dominik Livakovic and rifling his strike from a tight angle into the roof of the net. The high-fives he exchanged with Tite and his stuff suggested he felt the job was done.

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But this was to reckon without Croatia’s indomitable spirit. Although they had barely mustered a shot in anger, their substitutes propelled an improbable resurgence, as Mislav Orsic, tearing in from the left before squaring his pass for Bruno Petkovic, shot first time, the ball taking a wicked deflection to loop beyond Alisson.

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“Sometimes the ball deviates,” Tite shrugged, matter-of-factly. “That can happen in football. I respect the result.”

He accepted, after a record 6½-year stint in the role, that his race was run. “I have gone through a whole World Cup cycle, and there are other professionals who can replace me,” he said. Suddenly, he looked all his 61 years, the effervescence drained from his body. How dramatically the rhythms of this tournament can be disrupted. Just four days earlier, he had been performing jigs for joy after each of Brazil’s four first-half goals against South Korea. Now, he appeared ashen, barely comprehending defeat to a team who had only won once in normal time here in Qatar, against Canada.

“I understand all the pain, all the criticism,” he acknowledged, as Brazilian reporters howled with indignation at this most galling of upsets.

Midfield trumps attack, every time

The truth is that his vibrant playmakers found their creativity suffocated by Croatia’s relentless midfielders, with Luka Modric their master conductor. It was proof of the maxim, propagated by Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic, that a great midfield will neuter a great attack every time. You sensed, when Tite was forced to withdraw both Raphinha and Richarlison in the second half, that he was starting to lose control.

Naturally, with Neymar involved, Brazil could still force the breakthrough. He proved as much with his dazzling piece of artistry in extra time, as a 77th goal in national colours matched Pele’s landmark. But where Pele is still the only player to lift the World Cup three times, Neymar is stalked by the possibility that, at 30, he might not do so at all. A last-eight exit was not what he envisaged when he saw billboards of him plastered over every spare skyscraper in Doha. On the contrary, his time in Qatar has been a catalogue of trauma. First came the ankle injury that ruled him out of two of three group games, then this nightmare of an ending, one that might take a lifetime to forget.

Neymar has acquired priceless memories with Brazil, not least the Olympic gold medal that he won at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he took the fifth penalty. That was supposed to be his role again: that of the headline-grabbing superstar swooping in for the kill. But even teams of this might underestimate Croatia at their peril. The second Rodrygo missed, having opted for a needlessly elongated run-up, the equation was dire against a team unbeaten in World Cup shoot-outs. Neurosis swept through them, poor Marquinhos settling the outcome before Neymar could even join the party.

06:47 PM

A rollercoaster of emotions for Neymar

Quarter Final - Croatia v Brazil - Education City Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 9, 2022 Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring their first goal with Marquinhos - Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Quarter Final - Croatia v Brazil - Education City Stadium, Doha, Qatar - December 9, 2022 Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring their first goal with Marquinhos - Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Neymar (R) of Brazil reacts after losing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match against Croatia at Education City Stadium on December 09, 2022 - Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Neymar (R) of Brazil reacts after losing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match against Croatia at Education City Stadium on December 09, 2022 - Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

06:33 PM

Rio Ferdinand reacts

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06:30 PM

Man of the moment

According to Opta, Dominik Livakovic has saved four penalties during World Cup penalty shoot-outs, the joint-most of any goalkeeper in the tournament's history.

Dominik Livakovic of Croatia celebrates the win via a penalty shootout during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Dominik Livakovic of Croatia celebrates the win via a penalty shootout during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Alex Grimm/Getty Images

06:12 PM

A view from Brazil

From O Globo's Carlos Eduardo Mansur:

Brazil had a great game in a decisive match, but repeated a difficulty that other teams had in Qatar: managing the advantage after the emotional impact of going ahead. And the game narrowly escaped.

06:09 PM

By the barest of margins

Brazil's Marquinhos misses a penalty during the penalty shootout - REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Brazil's Marquinhos misses a penalty during the penalty shootout - REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Marquinhos on his knees - Michael Steele/Getty Images
Marquinhos on his knees - Michael Steele/Getty Images
Croatia's players celebrate their win as Brazil's defender #04 Marquinhos reacts at the end of the Qatar 2022 - ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Croatia's players celebrate their win as Brazil's defender #04 Marquinhos reacts at the end of the Qatar 2022 - ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

06:03 PM

Argentina fans, waiting for the second quarter-final, glory in Brazil's demise

Hubris?

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06:00 PM

Livakovic leads Croatia into the semi-final

Dominik Livakovic of Croatia celebrates the win via a penalty shootout - Alex Grimm/Getty Images
Dominik Livakovic of Croatia celebrates the win via a penalty shootout - Alex Grimm/Getty Images

05:55 PM

Brazil look stunned

Perhaps it's not to be for Neymar's generation but the future is always bright for Brazil.

Brazil players react in the penalty shoot out during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Brazil players react in the penalty shoot out during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

05:52 PM

Livakovic saves Rodrygo's penalty

Livakovic saves - AP Photo/Petr David Josek
Livakovic saves - AP Photo/Petr David Josek

05:49 PM

Brazil are on their knees

Why put Neymar fifth? Put your best penalty taker first.

Croatia are the first team into the semi-finals and given it's only their seventh World Cup, to get into a third semi-final is absolutely remarkable.

05:47 PM

Brazil are going home

Croatia 1 Brazil 1 (Croatia win 4-2 on penalties).

05:46 PM

Marquinhos hits the post

Croatia knock Brazil out of the World Cup!

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05:46 PM

Orsic scores

Bottom left. Emphatic. Unstoppable.

Croatia 4 Brazil 2

05:45 PM

Pedro scores

Stutters, sits Livakovic down then rolls it to the keeper's right.

Croatia 3 Brazil 2.

Two each left.

05:44 PM

Modric scores

Sends Alisson the wrong way.

Croatia 3 Brazil 1. Cool as a cucumber.

05:44 PM

Casemiro buries it

To the keeper's right in the corner. Livakovic went the right way.

Croatia 2 Brazil 1

Up steps Modric.

05:43 PM

Scores

Straight down the middle from Majer.

Croatia 2 Brazil 0

05:42 PM

Saved!

Livakovic saves to his left. Poor pen from Rodrygo. Good height.

Croatia 1 Brazil 0

05:41 PM

Scores

High, straight down the middle.

Croatia 1 Brazil 0.

Rodrygo next.

05:40 PM

Looks like Croatia are going first

Brazil won the toss, so Nikola Vlasic will go first in front of the Brazil fans.

05:38 PM

A reminder of their records in shootouts

Croatia

Penalty shoot-outs: Four (three wins, one defeat)

After losing their first shoot-out in heartbreaking fashion in the Euro 2008 quarter-final, Croatia can boast a hat-trick of World Cup wins since.

They overcame Denmark in the 2018 round of 16 thanks to keeper Danijel Subasic's heroics, while Ivan Rakitic scored the winning spot-kick in the very next round against Russia.

At this tournament, Dominik Livakovic emulated Subasic’s heroics by saving three Japanese penalties to ensure his side's passage through to the last eight.

Brazil

Penalty shoot-outs: 13 (eight wins, five defeats)

The Selecao famously won the 1994 World Cup final on penalties after a goalless draw against Italy, with Roberto Baggio blazing over the crossbar.

Brazil also downed the luckless Netherlands (more to come on them) in the 1998 semi-final, with Claudio Taffarel saving from Phillip Cocu and Ronald de Boer – although they were comfortably turned over by hosts France in the showpiece after the pre-match mystery over star striker Ronaldo's fitness.

There have been fewer shoot-outs for Brazil in recent years, with the most notable results including the Round of 16 triumph over Chile in 2014, when Julio Cesar made two saves, while spot-kick success against Paraguay in the 2019 Copa América quarter-final paved the way for glory in that tournament.

05:35 PM

Full-time Croatia 1 Brazil 1

Livakovic makes another save from Casemiro's half-volley that was larruped straight at him.

And that's it.

On to penalties.

05:34 PM

120 min Croatia 1 Brazil 1

Brazil were trying to manage the game but failed to make the type of tactical foul that could have stopped Modric orchestrating that equaliser.

Two more minutes to come.

05:29 PM

GOOOOAL!!!

Croatia 1 Brazil 1 (Petkovic)  Amazing. Gvardiol wins the ball back after his won mistake and Modric rushes the ball upfield, sending Orsic galloping down the left before he sweeps a pass to the 18-yard line. Petkovic hits it with the instep of his left foot, the ball strikes Marquinhos' thigh and balloons in at the left post. They never give up.

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05:28 PM

116 min Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Brazil take it short, play some tippity-tappity and draw the foul they wanted, Neymar conning Petkovic into a lunge to get it back. They play this one short too.

05:27 PM

114 min Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Orsic replaces Brozovic who has run his legs into the ground. Antony takes the ball up the right and buys a corner with skill and pace.

05:26 PM

112 min Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Marvellous defensive header from the evergreen Thiago Silva stops Budimir who is playing straight through the middle with Petkovic in a rare double big man attack. Shearer and Sir Les circa 1996-97.

05:24 PM

110 min Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Brazil defend the cross at the back post when it eventually comes after Croatia initially try to work the angle. Petkovic is mugged and the ball sent up to Neymar but he, now the only outlet, can't hang on to it.

05:23 PM

108 min Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Perisic is still running, always running. like the Little Soldier Angelo Di Livio and whips over a wonderful cross to the back post but no one's there.

Which is why they send on Budimir for Sosa when Modric diddles Fred and earns a corner on the left.

Neymar scores - Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
Neymar scores - Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

05:20 PM

106 min Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Alex Sandro and Fred replace Eder Militao and Paqueta. Croatia send on Majer for the Trojan Kovacic.

05:17 PM

Half-time: Croatia 0 Brazil 1

Ten Croatia players hit the floor. Lovren urges them onwards. Fifteen minutes to save their World Cup.

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05:13 PM

GOOOAL!!!

Croatia 0 Brazil 1 (Neymar) He's had a very poor game not that it matters now. He picks up the ball 40-yards out, plays a one two and strides towards the box. He then plays another and receives the ball back from Pedro to the right of the penalty spot 15 yards out. He drops his shoulder and drives past Livakovic on the keeper's left with another touch and scoops a shot into the roof of the net. Absolutely fantastic goal, grace and strength.

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05:12 PM

105 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Danilo cuts in off the left on to his right, puts his laces through a 25-yard shot and sends it into orbit.

05:10 PM

104 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Chance for Croatia! Lovren tackles Neymar by the D, wins the ball and Modric takes it on before pinging a pass up to Petkovic on the left. Petkovic nutmegs Eder Militao, barrels past Marquinhos then rolls a pass across the 18-yard line for Brozovic who blazes over.

05:09 PM

102 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Pedro goes for the flying scissors kick after more praiseworthy work from Antony on the right. But as he planted his feet to make the flip, one of them slipped which banjaxed his timing as he tried to hook the volley goalwards.

05:07 PM

100 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Good work from Sosa to track Paqueta's run as he tried to get on the end of Rodrygo's cross from the left. He wormed his way goalside and stood his ground, allowing Livakovic to come out and gather.

Fans of the Brazilian team watch the broadcast of the FIFA World Cup quarter final between Croatia and Brazil in the city of Olinda - Carlos Ezequiel Vannoni/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Fans of the Brazilian team watch the broadcast of the FIFA World Cup quarter final between Croatia and Brazil in the city of Olinda - Carlos Ezequiel Vannoni/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

05:04 PM

98 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Much better from Brazil, the whole side stationed higher and penning Croatia back. Antony is having Sosa on toast but for all the beauty of their probing, they never get to the point of pulling the trigger. All picador no matador.

05:02 PM

96 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Antony puts his foot on the ball then rolls it past Sosa with his studs and goes on the B of the Bang to sprint past him ... so Sosa trips him. Free-kick.

Neymar is riled by Brozovic's strength as he shields the ball from the free-kick and has three digs at him, each of them unpunished with a yellow card.

05:01 PM

94 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Sosa hands off Antony, his fingers going into the £85m man's mouth. Eugh! No free-kick, though.

05:00 PM

93 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Corner for Brazil after Sosa backpedals to head out a long diagonal as Antony tried to latch onto it. Neymar takes the corner, an outswinger, Pedro glance sit on and the ball heads out for a Croatia throw. Paqueta was shoved when he was trying to stop it and jars his knee a but but seems OK.

04:58 PM

91 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

No more changes yet. Eder Miliato has his shorts rolled up alarmingly high. Linekeresque.

04:55 PM

Should it go beyond extra time ...

What is Croatia's penalty shoot-out record?

Penalty shoot-outs: Four (three wins, one defeat)

After losing their first shoot-out in heartbreaking fashion in the Euro 2008 quarter-final, Croatia can boast a hat-trick of World Cup wins since.

They overcame Denmark in the 2018 round of 16 thanks to keeper Danijel Subasic's heroics, while Ivan Rakitic scored the winning spot-kick in the very next round against Russia.

At this tournament, Dominik Livakovic emulated Subasic’s heroics by saving three Japanese penalties to ensure his side's passage through to the last eight.

What is Brazil's penalty shoot-out record?

Penalty shoot-outs: 13 (eight wins, five defeats)

The Selecao famously won the 1994 World Cup final on penalties after a goalless draw against Italy, with Roberto Baggio blazing over the crossbar.

Brazil also downed the luckless Netherlands (more to come on them) in the 1998 semi-final, with Claudio Taffarel saving from Phillip Cocu and Ronald de Boer – although they were comfortably turned over by hosts France in the showpiece after the pre-match mystery over star striker Ronaldo's fitness.

There have been fewer shoot-outs for Brazil in recent years, with the most notable results including the Round of 16 triumph over Chile in 2014, when Julio Cesar made two saves, while spot-kick success against Paraguay in the 2019 Copa América quarter-final paved the way for glory in that tournament.

04:54 PM

End of normal time

Croatia have disrupted Brazil effectively with nerve, diligence and a great performance from their goalkeeper. Brazil have lacked poise and precision in their finishing and yet Croatia have barely had a sniff of goal.

Thom Gibbs reports

Really tough to call this from here. Croatia visibly tiring and Kovacic has been particularly annoying with the ball, but you can't hold that against him given his shift without it.

Brazil perhaps getting a bit jittery too. Neymar clearly trying to take the initiative and lead by example, but he has been guilty of trying to do too much at times in that second half. Modric, by contrast, has been impeccable. He must have covered more ground running in this game than his similarly-aged elite pals Ronaldo and Messi have all tournament.

04:52 PM

90+4 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Antony drops his shoulder, cuts in off the right flank but sends his tame shot from 22 yards miles within Livakovic's grasp.

04:51 PM

90+3 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Modric barges Rodrygo over after being nutmeggd by his Real team-mate. Michael Oliver keeps his cards pocketed.

04:50 PM

90+1 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Four minutes of added time are signalled. Petkovic, who can't make the ball stick to him, at least roughs up Thiago Silva a bit before losing possession this time.

04:48 PM

89 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Lovren reads a ball over the top for Pedro and lamps it away on the volley moments after Brozovic had tracked Rodrygo all the way to stop him pouncing on to some scraps in the box.

04:46 PM

87 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Sosa whips over a cross to the 18-yard line for Petkovic who stuns it with his first touch but is robbed while dawdling waiting for the ball to drop for a half-volley.

04:45 PM

85 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia are putting their bodies on the line, hurling themselves into blocks and stop Eder Militao's piledriver after he was set up by Antony's cutback. Croatia defend the corner at the front post.

04:43 PM

83 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brazil substitution: Pedro of Flamengo comes on for Richarlison moments after the Spurs striker had flashed a header over the bar from Rodrygo's cross, Gvardiol again giving him no room to work with.

04:41 PM

81 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Antony drives towards the byline, links up with Casemiro who sends a cross beyond the back post to the lurking Rodrygo. He lays it off to the yelling Paqueta by the 18-yard line but his drilled shot is again saved by Livakovic who must be man of the match so far.

04:38 PM

79 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brazil fans pump up the volume to try to inspire their team but instead Modric picks off a pass and dashes upfield before laying it off to the lumbering Petkovic whose control isn't good enough. Danilo strips the ball off him and sends the ball up the right.

04:36 PM

77min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Marquinhos wraps his arms around Luka Modric, rather like the ghost of Patrick Swayze, and stops him breaking forward after Croatia defend a corner solidly. Free-kick and yellow card.

04:35 PM

75min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Livakovic races off his line to force Neymar wide as he pounces on to Richarlison's cute pass. The keeper spreads himsself and saves with his knee from the left edge of the six-yard box.

04:33 PM

73 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Antony dives, looking for a penalty, and is told to get up. Perisic was nowhere near him.

04:30 PM

71 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Double Croatia substitution: Vlasic, at Torino on loan from yer Actual, replaces Pasalic and Petkovic, of Dinamo Zagreb, comes on for Kramaric, the Kaiser of Hoffenheim.

04:28 PM

69 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Yellow card for Casemiro for tripping Kramaric. By the standards of one of Brozovic's later fouls, it didn't warrant that.

Brazil shoot - Michael Zemanek/Shutterstock
Brazil shoot - Michael Zemanek/Shutterstock

04:26 PM

67 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar  feeds the ball to Rodrygo from the left to the left of the D. He spins to try to knock it round the corner and it hits Lovren and loops up to Paqueta darting down the inside left channel. But out comes Livakovic to make another fine save from close range. I think I wrote when doing the Chelsea Dinamo Zagreb game, it's a mystery that he hasn't been picked up by one of Europe's giants.

Livakovic - REUTERS/Lee Smith
Livakovic - REUTERS/Lee Smith

04:23 PM

65 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brozovic pulls back Neymar by the arm. Living dangerously but he gets away with it. Despite Brazil's lobbying. The free-kick, by Casemiro, is fired straight into the wall.

04:22 PM

63 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Rodrygo replaces his Real Madrid team-mate Vinicius Jr on the left wing. The problem hasn't been the wingers but the service to them.

04:21 PM

61 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Gvardiol, in his graphene face mask, brings the ball into the Brazil half, feeds Kovacic down the inside left and he rolls the ball to his left to Perisic. The Tottenham man shapes to cut back on his right to try to bend a shot around Alisson and into the top corner but snatches at it ... allowing Alisson to snaffle it safely.

04:17 PM

59 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Richarlison picks up the ball off a Kramaric scuffed trap and hares up the left. Vinicius splits to his left, Antony to his right but his pass to the latter is misplaced and back come Croatia.

04:16 PM

57 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic makes a save during the World Cup - AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic makes a save during the World Cup - AP Photo/Frank Augstein

04:14 PM

55 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar fires a left-foot shot from an angle of about 60 degrees from the left post, scuffing it somewhat and Livakovic pulls off another point-blank save.

Brazil change: Antony replaces Raphinha.

04:13 PM

53 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

It's that man Juranovic again, piling down the right to break the lines, knocking it across the 18-yard line to Perisic and continuing his run into the box. Perisic's cross parts his team-mate's hair. Three inches lower and that would have been a sitter from six yards.

04:11 PM

51 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar goes on a 40 yard run up the inside left channel and looks hurt in the tackle, or at least winded. Croatia usher the ball back upfield when it breaks to Neymar's right and block all paths back to their goal. Perisic does this by hovering in front of the man in possession, on the half-turn, forcing him to offload.

04:09 PM

49 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

A minute before the VAR incident there had been a terrific save from Livakovic with his feet, spreading himself to keep out Gvardiol's skewed block from Raphinha's menacing daisycutter cross.

04:07 PM

VAR check for a possible Brazil penalty

Not awarded. The ball hit Juranovic on the hand as the ball sailed over his shoulder. After that Neymar swivelled on to a shot that Gvardiol blocked bravely with a slide and Vinicius, in an offside position, had a stabbed shot saved by Livakovic.

04:03 PM

46 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brazil kick off and attack up the right before switching to the left via a long diagonal that skips out of play.

03:50 PM

Thom Gibbs' half-time verdict

Tighter than expected so far. Croatia have generally been alert to danger in the right moments and, crucially, fouled Brazil if they look like getting through them. A little more care on the ball at times and they might have even more to show for their work.

Not sure why Brazil aren't targeting Juranovic at right-back more, Vinicius Jr. seems to have the beating of him at will but they're going long and central more frequently, which is what Gvardiol and Lovren will want.

Temperature steady at 23°C but no let up from the eager air con so I've done it - I've put my jumper on. Another Qatar World Cup first.

03:48 PM

Half-time Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia are experts at taking knockout games long and have done a number on Brazil so far. Both sides are still playing well but they are finding the concentration and strategy of their opponents too difficult to crack ... yet.

03:46 PM

45 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia knock it long, Sosa chipping it 60 yards over Brazil's back line for Kramaric's piercing run but he went too soon and Brazil caught him in their offside trap. Just one minute of added time to play ...

03:44 PM

44 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

The referee stops play when Paqueta goes down even though he wasn't fouled and has to restart with a drop ball.

03:43 PM

42 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar takes the free-kick. The middle man in the three-man wall leaps high enough to take the sting out of the curling shot, aimed for the near post from a spot to the left of the box, parallel with the 18-yard line, and the ball loops invitingly into Livakovic's bread basket.

03:41 PM

39 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Danilo give Croatia's right flank a taste of its own medicine by pushing high and winning a throw-in off Pasalic. Neymar is some player but I can't see him as a midfielder in a three.

Brozovic rides his luck after chopping down Vinicius Jr. He has already been booked, which Neymar doesn't let Michael Oliver forget. But he keeps the red card in his pocket.

03:39 PM

37 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brilliant from Juranovic, who has been such an attacking force for Croatia. But this time he hares back to nip the ball off Vinicius in full stride. He's a road runner, baby. Meep, meep!

03:35 PM

34 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia's midfield is working their, erm, socks off to hustle, hound and intercept. Modric is having one of those games where Brozovic and Kovacic are positively Stakhanovite and it's allowing him to get on the ball far more than he did against Japan.

Neymar - GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images
Neymar - GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

03:33 PM

32 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar explodes off the mark into a  dribble and Brozovic, not trusting Lovren behind him, trips Brazil's No 10. Yellow card for him, too. Brazil take the free-kick short and Croatia pick it off. What a waste. Lovren is winding Richarlison up in the box. Old Mersey rivalries run deep.

03:31 PM

30 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar chips the free-kick over to the right. Eder Militao hits a volleyed cross into the area and Gvardiol thumps it clear.

03:30 PM

28 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

It's one of those games that we tend to describe as absorbing, which in this case is accurate and not a euphemism for dull. But no clear chances yet though plenty of good play.

Kovacic bumps Vinicius Jr off the ball and gives Brazil a free-kick 40 yards out.

Croatia's goalkeeper #01 Dominik Livakovic secures the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil - GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images
Croatia's goalkeeper #01 Dominik Livakovic secures the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil - GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

03:27 PM

26 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia defend it well and counter up the right, sending Juranovic chasing a bouncing ball. Danilo comes across to defend with a Bruce Lee high kick and gets the ball but also veered dangerously close to decapitating Celtic's Croatia right-back. Yellow card and free-kick on the right. Modric takes and Croatia let Brazil off the hook with a foul in the area.

Michael Oliver following a challenge on Josip Juranovic of Croatia - Dave Shopland/Shutterstock
Michael Oliver following a challenge on Josip Juranovic of Croatia - Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

03:25 PM

24 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brazil are now huffing and puffing. Is the Croatia back four made of straw, wood or bricks. Paqueta plays it up to Raphinha who holds the ball up, back to goal, and rolls it back for Casemiro 20 yards out. The Manchester United sitter steers a shot with his instep rather than putting his laces through it and it takes a deflection. Corner.

03:22 PM

22 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

And then Brazil turn on the style and speed, Vinicius is played long down the left. He tails it back from the corner flag, chops into the box and plays a one-two with Richarlison but his shot is thwarted by Lovren's flying block. Brazil come back up the inside-left, Neymar accelerating into the box before chipping the tamest of shots straight at Livakovic. Catching practice.

03:20 PM

20 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia are exploiting the space between Neymar/Paqueta and Casemiro. Modric keeps popping up in that gap.

03:18 PM

18 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia are playing well but it would be wrong to say they are on top as Brazil look comfortable and dangerous on the ball when scenting any space.

Vinicius Junior wrestles with Croatia's Josip Juranovic - REUTERS/Lee Smith
Vinicius Junior wrestles with Croatia's Josip Juranovic - REUTERS/Lee Smith

03:16 PM

16 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Pasalic catches Casemiro napping, robs him on the blindside, and tees up Modric for a runn down the inside-right. He stands up a cross to the far post and Eder Militao heads it away. Sometimes good to have a centre-back as full-back.

03:15 PM

14 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Brilliant from Juranovic who storms down the right, eats up 60 yards, then passes the ball out to Pasalic on the overlap. He carries on his run to the near post and is almost picked out by Pasalic's return. It's just ahead of him and he telescopes out his right leg to try to lash it in but swipes at fresh ait and the ball also evaded Perisic's attempt to steer it in.

03:13 PM

12 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Neymar has had a couple of good runs from that inside-left position but was caught offside the second time he raced forward.

03:12 PM

We've got a new game for you to try

03:11 PM

10 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Casemiro wins a tackle in midfield and sparks an attack up the right via Raphinha who ultimately cannot keep the ball in play by the byline as he looked for the cutback to Richarlison.

03:10 PM

8 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Croatia are trying crosses from each side, pushing high up the flanks with Pasalic and Kramaric supported by the full-backs bombing on. But they lack a Suker or Mandzukic, clever though Perisic's runs are.

03:09 PM

6 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Sosa fouls Raphinha and Militao is fouled by Perisic from the restart. Good header from the Eder Militao even though he was being fouled.

03:06 PM

Do you like ranking and rating?

A question not to be asked by Roy Hodgson ... knock yourselves out and mark the players:

03:05 PM

4 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Juranovic melts away when Vinicius brings it up the left, giving him the space he wants to cut in on his right and bend a right-foot shot straight down Livakovic's throat.

03:04 PM

3 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

Eder Militao knocks the ball up to Raphinha who lays it off to Paqueta. He applies a heavy touch, Kovacic, one of the best dribblers around, latches on to the mistake and drives forward until Paqueta and Casemiro bring him down. Nothing comes from the free-kick. Croatia are pressing impressively high.

03:02 PM

1 min Croatia 0 Brazil 0

They're off. The referees in a rather fetching shade of purple. Brazil sweep the ball around and back to the clean-shaven Alisson twice.

03:01 PM

How do you think this one will play out

Have a go on the predictor:

02:59 PM

England's Michael Oliver

Is today's referee. Brazil are in the 'little canary' shirts, Croatia in checkerboard, polluted with too much white in flashes in front and behind.

02:56 PM

The teams are out

And they have just run through Lijepa nasa domovino. Time for Brazil's banger: Hino Nacional Brasileiro. Love a national anthem with defined movements (qv Italy, South Africa 2.0 and New Zealand 2.0)

02:54 PM

Good afternoon

Thanks to Andrew Quinn for holding the fort while I found a seat in the office. Hot-desking eh? Invented by geniuses. The type that should be locked up. No one's giving Croatia a hope, citing their age. They are right. This is no country for old men. But they are technically excellent, streetwise and usually refuse to get drawn into the kind of games their opponents wish to play. Look what they did to Argentina in 2018 and to England in the semi-final. Yes, Brazil are overwhelming favourites but it won't be the walkover the bookies' odds suggest (1/3 vs 8/1)

02:47 PM

Casemiro the key for Brazil

Although a lot has been said about Brazil's attacking players, the key man is Casemiro. He is their only defensive midfielder and he ties the team together. His qualities liberate the forward players, allowing them to express themselves offensively. They know that he will cover. He also popped up with the winning goal in the Switzerland game. When the World Cup is over, we are sure to see the best of him playing for Manchester United.

02:44 PM

Gvardiol the one to watch

It'll be good to see Josko Gvardiol against top opposition. The Leipzig centre-back is one of the best young defenders in Europe, and I am sure plenty of scouts will be watching him today. It's hard to believe that he's only 20 (especially because of the thickness of his beard), as he plays with such composure and confidence.

It will be a real test today, though. Brazil's movement can drag defenders out of position, and their front five all have the ability to dribble past a man with relative ease. It will take real discipline from Gvardiol to keep them at bay.

02:38 PM

From our man on the ground

By Thom Gibbs at Education City Stadium

Seems far too muted inside Education City stadium ahead of quarter-final kick-off in half an hour. A small cluster of thoroughly checked Croatian fans to my left are making the most noise at the moment, but I would describe the atmosphere in general as "half time in the National League".

Interesting comparing the experience of being at Argentina games to Brazil. Both sets of fans fantastic on the way to the game, the sort of raucous but un-hammered behaviour which makes you wonder if British football culture and its six pint minimum has got it all wrong. But where Argentina's fans are mostly in position well before kick-off the Brazilians seem to prefer longer on the concourse.

In all-important temperature news, it is a significantly cooler evening here in Doha. A mere 23°C now the sun has set. I can only apologise to those of your reading or liveblogging back in the UK. Air conditioning feels like it is on several notches too high currently, this might be the first World Cup match I watch while wearing a jumper.

02:33 PM

Pictured: Players warming up

Brazil's Neymar during the warm up before the match - Lee Smith/Reuters
Brazil's Neymar during the warm up before the match - Lee Smith/Reuters
Dejan Lovren of Croatia warms up prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium on December 09, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar - Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Dejan Lovren of Croatia warms up prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium on December 09, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar - Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Thiago Silva of Brazil enters the pitch to warm up prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Thiago Silva of Brazil enters the pitch to warm up prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
 Luka Modric warms up ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Jack Guez/Getty Images
Luka Modric warms up ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Jack Guez/Getty Images

02:26 PM

Pictured: Fans gearing up for quarter-final clash

Brazil fans show their support for former player Pele with a banner prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Brazil fans show their support for former player Pele with a banner prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match - Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Croatia supporters cheer ahead of the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Jack Guez/Getty Images
Croatia supporters cheer ahead of the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Jack Guez/Getty Images
Fans of Brazil cheer prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022 quarter final soccer match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Neil Hall/Shutterstock
Fans of Brazil cheer prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022 quarter final soccer match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Neil Hall/Shutterstock
A Croatia supporter waves her national flag as she cheers ahead of the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Jack Guez/Getty Images
A Croatia supporter waves her national flag as she cheers ahead of the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Croatia and Brazil at Education City Stadium - Jack Guez/Getty Images

02:20 PM

Two changes for Croatia

Bad news for Rangers fans: Borna Barisic has been dropped to the bench. Stuttgart left-back Borna Sosa comes in.

In attack, Petkovic is dropped for Pasalic, opening up a central role for ex-Leicester man Andrej Kramaric. This is where he plays for Hoffenheim, and he could pose problems for an aging Brazilian defence – three out of the back four are over 30. Tottenham's Ivan Perisic, who became Croatia's top scorer at major tournaments last time out, starts on the left side of a three-pronged attack.

With Barisic out, that leaves Josip Juranovic as the sole Old Firm representative tonight. The right-back has been linked with a move away from the east end of Glasgow in January.

Croatia's solid midfield three of Modric, Brozovic and Kovacic all start, with ex-Liverpool man Dejan Lovren and highly-rated Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol behind them.

02:12 PM

Brazil unchanged

Brazil have kept the same team their 4-1 victory over South Korea in the the Round of 16.

Eder Militao fills in again at right-back with Danilo on the other side. Alex Sandro, the only natural left-back available, returns to the bench after missing the last match through injury.

The star-studded attack remains the same, but it will be a stiffer test for them this time round. Richarlison, Vinicius and Raphinha have all shone so far, but we are yet to se the best of Neymar. Will this be the game where he shows his ability?

02:02 PM

The teams are out!

Croatia: Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic.

Subs: Stanisic, Barisic, Erlic, Majer, Grbic, Vlasic, Livaja, Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic, Vida, Ivusic, Sutalo, Sucic, Jakic.

Brazil: Alisson, Eder Militao, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Danilo, Lucas Paqueta, Casemiro, Raphinha, Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Richarlison.

Subs: Alex Sandro, Fred, Weverton, Dani Alves, Fabinho, Bruno Guimaraes, Antony, Rodrygo, Everton Ribeiro, Ederson, Bremer, Pedro, Martinelli.

09:15 AM

A re-run of 2014's opening game

Croatia take on Brazil in the first of the World Cup quarter-finals today. This will be the fifth time that the sides have met, with Brazil winning three and drawing one of their previous matches. They have played each other twice at the World Cup, both in the group stage. In 2006, Brazil ran out 1-0 winners and they won the opening match of the 2014 tournament 3-1, with Neymar bagging two goals.

Neymar, Dani Alves and Thiago Silva are the only Brazil players who were involved that day who could feature this time round. Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic all turned out for Croatia eight years ago, and current vice-captain Domagoj Vida was on the bench.

In this tournament, 2018 finalists Croatia beat Japan on penalties after a 1-1 draw to reach the quarter-final. In the group stage, they had 0-0 draws with Morocco and Belgium either side of a 4-1 win over Canada.

Brazil turned on the style with a dazzling performance in their last game against South Korea, which they won 4-1. Manager Tite and the players danced after scoring, which was called disrespectful by critics. In the group stage, they won 2-0 against Serbia and 1-0 against Switzerland, before losing 1-0 to Cameroon – their first ever defeat against an African side.

The winner of the match will go on to play either Argentina or the Netherlands in the semi-final. Many neutrals will be hoping for a blockbuster Brazil vs Argentina clash, in which superstars, and former team-mates, Neymar and Lionel Messi would go head to head.

But supporters of the underdog will be hoping that Croatia can pull off an upset and reach their their third World Cup semi-final. That would be a great send-off for the country's second golden generation and would be some feat for a side whose first World Cup was in 1998.