Brazil eased past Croatia in a World Cup warm-up game thanks to goals from Neymar and Roberto Firmino. The game was played at Liverpool’s Anfield.
Neymar opened the scoring with a wonder-goal on the 69th minute, making it his 54th goal for the national team. Firmino then doubled Brazil’s lead just before the final whistle in Liverpool.
This was Neymar’s first appearance after recovering from a three-month injury that kept him out of PSG‘s most decisive part of the season.
Neymar Scores In Brazil Win
Brazil: Alisson (7), Danilo (6,5), Marcelo (7), Thiago Silva (7), Miranda (7), Casemiro (8), Fernandinho (6), Willian (7,5), Coutinho (7) and Jesus (6,5).
Subs: Neymar (8), Filipe Luís (6,5), Roberto Firmino (7,5), Marquinhos (7), Fred (6) and Taison (6).
Croatia: Subasic (6,5), Vrsaljko (6,5), Corluka (6), Lovren (6,5), Vida (6,5), Rakitic (6), Badelj (6,5) Modric (7), Perisic (5,5), Rebic (6,5) and Kramaric (6).
Subs: Caleta-Car (6), Kovacic (6), Brozovic (6), Pjaca (5,5), Bradaric (6) and Jedvaj (5).
Man of the Match: Neymar
Brazil started with their usual 4-3-3 formation but lacked creativity, as Fernandinho and Casemiro couldn’t manage to help their team in transition. Croatia recognised their opponent’s structure and mirrored Brazil’s formation, pressing high up the pitch and forcing passing errors at the back.
Miranda missed a few passes early on and saw Andrej Kramaric intercept him and strike from distance, forcing Alisson work.
After 20 minutes, Croatia’s pressure loosened up, giving Casemiro the space to find Phillipe Coutinho, making his Anfield return, on the edge of the box. The former Liverpool star got a clear shot but sent it away from goal.
Croatia’s defence worked very well as Brazil were not able to find their key player in attack. Willian and Coutinho would find space on the wings but were often surrounded by opponents.
Until the end of the first half, the game was very physical, with both sides committing fouls whenever needed.
Neymar came on for Fernandinho after the break, making his return after going through a surgery exactly three months ago, and changed the game.
Coutinho moved to a more central position and along with Neymar started to move around, trying to find space on the pitch.
In the 69th minute, Coutinho found Neymar entering the left side of the box, with the PSG star dribbling past two defenders to score an amazing goal.
Croatia endured the pressure well after the first goal but ended up conceding a second just before the final whistle. Casemiro received the ball with plenty of space and found Firmino who snuck behind Tin Jedvaj. The defender still tried to tackle the Brazilian forward but missed. The Liverpool man calmly waited for the ball to bounce on the pitch and dinked it over the keeper, making it 2-0.
- Neymar scored his 54th goal for his national team today and is the fifth all-time scorer, just one behind the former Barcelona star Romário (fourth).
- Thiago Silva has secured his first-team status in the recent training sessions and will compose Brazil’s defence alongside Miranda.
Roberto Firmino: “I’m very happy to play and score at home [Anfield], helping the team earn the victory. I’m here to help and give my best whenever Tite needs. I always respect his [Tite’s] opinion (regarding his dispute with Jesus for a spot in the Starting XI).”
Man of the Match – Neymar
The PSG star did what he does best: make an impact. Whenever PSG needs, Neymar is there to provide the team with brilliant plays and fancy moves. Today it was no different. Coming on after the break, Neymar changed the game and scored an amazing goal.
The Brazilian made it look like he wasn’t coming back from a three-month injury. He moved around the pitch, seeking the ball and trying to find space between the opponent’s tight defence.
14 days away from kicking off Brazil’s campaign in the World Cup, Neymar looks as sharp as ever.
Brazil will take on Austria in Viena next Sunday, just before flying to Russia.
Croatia face Senegal on Friday at home to end their warm-up for the World Cup.