Dejan Lovren does not “see any disrespect” in Brazil’s dancing goal celebrations as his Croatia team prepare to face off against the World Cup favourites in a huge quarter-final clash.
Brazil reached the last eight with an emphatic 4-1 thumping of South Korea in the round of 16 on Monday, garnering praise for their impressive attacking display.
However, Brazil’s dancing celebrations after their goals were criticised by some, with pundit and former Manchester United captain Roy Keane saying Brazil were “disrespecting the opposition” with their behaviour.
Lovren disagrees with Keane though, and sees no ill intention with Brazil’s post-goal antics, telling reporters: “Dancing after a goal? They can do whatever they want.
“I don’t see any disrespect in that. Everything has its limit, but I know how Brazilians breathe and I don’t see anything negative in that.”
Croatia made it all the way to final at the 2018 World Cup, and they kept their hopes alive of repeating those heroics with a tense victory on penalties over tournament surprises Japan.
Zlatko Dalic’s men found themselves behind at half-time, but Ivan Perisic nodded home an equaliser before Dominik Livakovic saved three penalties in the shoot-out to secure Croatia’s place in the last eight.
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While Lovren acknowledged the difficulty of Friday’s match with Brazil, the former Liverpool defender feels his team will give a good account of themselves.
“Brazil is the favourite,” Lovren added. “They have fantastic players and they are definitely the favourites. We have no problem with that.
“We appreciate everyone and respect everyone and we will prove it on the field.”
Midfielder Mateo Kovacic cited Croatia’s 1-0 Nations League victory over reigning world champions France in June as a blueprint for how they must perform against Brazil.
“The match against France in the Nations League was good from our side,” the Chelsea midfielder explained.
“We were good, showed confidence in possession, we have to do it again on Friday. We must not struggle with possession and an early goal would help us a lot.
“Brazil is a top team, it is easy to say that the game needs to be repeated, but it is certainly the way to play.”
Croatia have conceded just two goals at the tournament so far, with Lovren forming a solid partnership at the back with 20-year-old Josko Gvardiol.
Gvardiol’s imposing performances have attracted interest from Europe’s elite clubs, and Lovren understands why, declaring: “He has great quality, he’s way ahead of me at 20-years-old.
“It’s no wonder every club in the world is interested in his services.”