Brazil and Croatia will step up their preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Sunday, when they meet in what should be a fascinating friendly at Anfield.
The Selecao are one of the favourites for glory for this summer's tournament in Russia, having put together a fantastic run of form in qualifying under manager Tite. All eyes will be on the meeting on Merseyside to see whether Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar makes his long-awaited return from injury.
Croatia are often considered a dark horse in major competitions, and there are numerous high-class players available to manager Zlatko Dalic.
Although these friendlies will do little to replicate the intense atmosphere of the World Cup, a bumper crowd is expected at Liverpool's ground.
Date: Sunday, June 3
Time: 3 p.m. (BST), 10 a.m. (ET)
TV Info: LFC TV (UK), beIN Sports (U.S.)
Live Stream: beIN Sports CONNECT (U.S.)
All Eyes on Brazil at Anfield
While it's anticipated that Neymar will be fit for Brazil's opening game at the World Cup—against Switzerland on Jun 17—he's not played any competitive football since February. As a result, supporters may find themselves getting a little nervous as the tournament edges closer.
There are big doubts about whether he will be involved here too. As James Whaling of the Daily Mirror noted, the world's most expensive player wasn't involved in training on Thursday, meaning the chances of him starting in Liverpool are slim.
According to GloboEsporte's Alexandre Lozetti Brazil lined up in a certain manner in training (h/t journalist Jack Lang):
It means Roberto Firmino may not be involved from the off on home soil, but it does mean Philippe Coutinho would feature on his old stomping ground.
Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in January, and while he had a slow start to life at the Camp Nou, he finished the season in sensational form. Tite will be desperate to see the midfielder, who plays from the right flank for Brazil, take that momentum into the World Cup.
WhoScored.com summed up just how good the former Liverpool man has been in the main throughout 2017-18:
While Croatia may not possess the firepower of their opponents on Sunday, they do have a midfield capable of matching any in football.
Ivan Rakitic was an important part of Barcelona's double-winning 2017/18 team, and Mateo Kovacic of Real Madrid is another expert technician in the middle of the park. However, it's the latter's team-mate Luka Modric who makes the Valtreni purr.
Liverpool supporters in attendance may not be too keen to see the Madrid star again so soon, though, as the match is just eight days on from Modric's masterclass against the Reds in the UEFA Champions League final. Football journalist David Amoyal praised the manner of the midfielder's display in the 3-1 win:
Brazil will also have to cope with some awkward attackers. Mario Mandzukic is difficult to contain at the point of the attack, while Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic can offer penetration from out wide.
The Selecao have been outstanding under Tite, blending cohesion, composure and plenty of flair in the final third. At times, Brazil should light up Anfield, and they will keep spirits high ahead of their pursuit of a sixth World Cup crown.
Prediction: Brazil 3-1 Croatia