Will Brazil keep the dancing going at the World Cup? That remains to be seen when it clashes against Croatia on Friday for a FIFA World Cup quarterfinals berth.
The Brazilians, amid criticism, underscored that their goal celebrations in Qatar will continue as it is part of the Brazilian culture.
Brazil coach Tite, on Thursday, told the Associated Press (AP) in a report, “It’s not about disrespecting our opponents. It’s just who we are.”
Tite himself was seen dancing with his players after his crew hacked out a 4-1 victory over South Korea in the round of 16 Monday. Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane was among the list of those who criticized the Brazilians for their dancing.
More dance for Brazil
Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior also promised more dancing as Brazil continues to succeed.
He said, “The goal is the most important moment in soccer, not only for those who score them but for the entire country.” The player was also caught in the hot seat with his dances while with Real Madrid.
“We still have many celebrations left, and hopefully we can keep scoring and dancing like this until the final,” he said.
Brazilian players earlier said that they prepared several goal celebrations ahead of time before the tournament kicked off.
But they will be up against a tough Croatia squad led by Luka Modric to keep dancing. Modric and Croatia are trying to secure a World Cup final ticket after bowing to France, 2-4, in their titular showdown four years ago.
Modric said they want to do more and they must not be satisfied only with reaching the quarterfinals.
“We know that we have a strong opponent ahead of us. We have our own strengths and we have faith in ourselves,” the French star said.
The 37-year-old Modric is familiar with some of the Brazilians having played with Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo, and Éder Militão in Madrid, which also paraded Casemiro’s services in the team until recently. Vinícius Júnior took highly of the veteran midfielder whom he considers a reference, saying that he learned a lot from him.
“It’s very nice to hear Vini compliment me. He is a great guy and we have a very strong relationship,” Modric said. “He’s made progress since joining Real Madrid and has been showing that at the World Cup. We have the difficult task to try to stop him. If I can give my teammates a tip or two on how to neutralize him and on how to make his job more difficult, of course, I’ll do it.”
Croatia is ready
Croatia, like Brazil, conceded only twice so far in Doha. The team subdued Canada, 4-1 before forcing a scoreless draw with Morocco and Belgium in the group stage. Croatia, meanwhile, settled for a 1-1 draw with Japan in extra time, eventually winning via a penalty shootout in the round of 16.
For the record, Croatia’s four of the last five matches at World Cups went into extra time. The Croatians were successful in seven of its last nine knockout matches in the football spectacle.
Tite cited Croatia as having great quality and a lot of resiliency. “Brazil will try to keep doing what has worked so far, and then we’ll see which team can advance,” Tite said.
Brazil has yet to win its first win against a European team in the World Cup’s knockout stage since the South Americans toppled Germany in their 2002 final collision.
The Brazilians earlier defeated Serbia and Switzerland before bowing to Cameroon with the team’s reserve squad in its final group game. The Seleção proved too much for South Korea, dominating their match from the start in the last 16.
Neymar, another Brazilian who dances to celebrate, will start again after returning to the lineup against South Korea. He sustained a right ankle injury in their opening victory against Serbia.
Brazil, which lost to Germany in the semifinal when they hosted the World Cup in 2014, will be playing in its eighth straight World Cup quarterfinal, and 14th overall.