Brazil was by far the favourites for every bookmaker who set odds for the 2022 World Cup, such was the strength of the team and conviction in the side.
So naturally, the South Americans crashing out at the Quarter Finals stage at the hands of Croatia was an upset, and a shocking one at that.
The workhorses of red and white had ousted the flair and charisma of blue and gold, but it was not straightforward.
It looked for all the world that Neymar’s goal in the first half of extra time had Brazil through, but the never-say-die Croatian attitude meant they equalised in the second half, with 3 minutes left on the clock, thanks to Bruno Petkovic.
On to penalties we went.
The Europeans went first, with Vlasic dispatching his kick. Rodrygo went first for the other side. Missed.
The next two kicks for both sides found the net. Score: 3-2 after three kicks each.
Mislav Orsic went next, neatly converting his shot. Marquinhos of Brazil took his side’s first do-or-die kick, and he hit the post. 4-2, Croatia won.
In reactions reminiscent of when Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak broke, the stadium was shocked, the Brazilian players hit the ground in dismay while the Croatians ran towards the goalkeeper Livakovic.
After the last kick, amidst the celebrations, two players were under the spotlight. One was Marquinhos, who failed to hit the target, and the other was Rodrygo, who saw his saved by the keeper.
While all Brazilians got emotional and broke down, we cannot blame these two players for feeling the weight of this the most. After all, they were at least partly culpable for the heavyweights to crash out of the tournament.
Often during such times, we see the opposition console the losing team, in the name of sportsmanship.
Something similar was observed here as well.
Modric, A Croatian legend, was seen going to and talking to Rodrygo, who was being comforted by Neymar.
Both Modric and Rodrygo play for Real Madrid and that’s where the personal touch comes from. Modric reassured Rodrygo, saying “Come on, go ahead. Don’t worry. You’re stronger than this. Everyone makes mistakes. You’ll come back stronger. I love you, son!”.
The touching video can be seen below.
Rodrygo’s father is only one year older than Modric, so the word ‘son’ hits closer to home for the duo than most would think.
Rodrygo has spoken publicly about the close bond between the father-like Modric and himself.
“When he found out that my father was 35 years old, he didn’t believe it,” Rodrygo mentioned on social media.
“He then told me I should respect him as he was old enough to be my father.
In fact, pre-game, Rodrygo even sent out a tweet addressing him as ‘papa’.
Back in August, the Brazilian again called Modric a father figure, stating to the Real Madrid website that “He really helps me. Playing with him is much easier, given the quality he’s got. He’s like a father to me”.
At 37, Luka has conquered more than most in the world of football, while at only 21, Rodrygo has the world at his feet and still has a long way to go. It is important for him to fight these demons, learn and move on and not get hung up, something that the Croatian legend knows and hence the comforting words.
It’s not just this duo that made the headlines. Ivan Perisic’s son was also seen consoling Neymar after the game.
It is time for the Brazilians to go back home and come back fighting the next time around.
As for Modric and co., after Neymar comes Messi. They face another South American team in Argentina, and they’ll be hoping to make it to back-to-back world cup finals. And maybe even win it this time, after a heart-break in 2018.