DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Brazil wants to keep the dancing going at the World Cup when it faces Croatia on Friday with a spot in the semifinals on the line.
The Brazilians have made it clear they will not back from their goal celebrations in Qatar despite criticism by some.
“It’s part of the Brazilian culture,” Brazil coach Tite said Thursday. “It’s not about disrespecting our opponents. It’s just who we are.”
Tite himself was dancing with his players after Brazil scored in the 4-1 win against South Korea in the round of 16 on Monday. Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane was among those criticizing the Brazilians for their dancing.
Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior also promised more dancing if Brazil keeps succeeding.
“The goal is the most important moment in soccer, not only for those who score them but for the entire country,” said Vinícius Júnior, who had already been criticized for 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.”
Brazilian players had said before the tournament started that they had several goal celebrations prepared ahead of time.
To keep dancing, though, Brazil will have to get past a tough Croatia side that is led by Luka Modric and trying to return to the World Cup final four years after falling short of the title against France.
“We want to do more,” Modric said. “We 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.”
Modric knows some of the Brazilians well, as he plays with Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo and Éder Militão at Madrid, which also had Casemiro in the squad until recently. Vinícius Júnior said Modric was a reference for him, and that he learned a lot from the 37-year-old veteran midfielder.
“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 a 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.”