This is certainly one of the most eye-catching of all the World Cup warm-up friendlies. Most of the big sides seem to have opted for not too challenging a schedule but Brazil will face a real test here from a talented Croatian side. Of course the result doesn’t really matter but both sides will be looking to set the tone for the summer ahead and individuals will be keen to perform well with starting places up for grabs.
Brazil are in Group E in Russia and their final group game will be against Croatia’s bitter rivals Serbia. While that will be a slightly different test, it’s certainly a big reason why they’ve arranged this fixture. They should be well supported at Anfield with the likes of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho in their ranks but much of the focus will be on Neymar who is a major doubt for this game having being pictured nursing his foot injury during training this week. The PSG man hasn’t played since February and is in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup.
Croatia meanwhile have South American opposition in their World Cup group in the shape of Argentina. With Nigeria and Iceland making up that group, they will fancy they can progress to the knock-out stages though and what could be a possible last sixteen clash against France.
They are a good side but they did make relatively hard work of qualifying and you wonder if they will have enough all-round quality to be a match for Brazil here. Inconsistency has certainly been a problem for them over the past two years and a record of just 6 wins from their last 14 internationals is pretty poor when you consider how much quality they have, particularly in midfield.
They could only finish 2nd to Iceland in qualifying, while Brazil made seamless progress to emerge as clear winners in South America. Their record in recent friendlies against European sides is also good. They beat both Russia and Germany to nil during the March international break and significantly they haven’t lost to European opposition since the 2014 World Cup.
Even if Neymar can only feature for a small part or misses out altogether they have enough quality to get the win and backing Brazil -1.0 Asian Handicap appeals against an inconsistent Croat side.
For more on this market see our Asian Handicap SOCCER Guide.
Going for Philippe Coutinho to score anytime could also be worth considering. He’ll be keen to put on a show back at Anfield and was in fine form towards the end of the season, scoring 7 times in his final 6 games for Barcelona. It’s also worth noting he assumed penalty duties in the absence of Neymar in Brazil’s friendly against Russia in March.
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The sides met at both the 2006 and 2014 World Cups with Brazil winning on each occasion. The only other meeting was a 2005 friendly which ended 1-1.