After a long wait for four years, today’s opening match between host Brazil and fellow Group A team Croatia will kick off the 2014 World Cup officially in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thursday, catering the billion and odd soccer/football fans around the world who have been waiting with bated breath for the world cup to begin.
Time: June 12, 2014 and the match will start at 17:00 Local time (Brazil); 1:30 am IST; 6:00 pm GMT;
Venue: Estadio do Maracana Stadium, Sao Paulo.
Referee: Japan’s Yuichi Nishimura will be the referee and he is assisted by compatriots Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi, with Alireza Faghani of Iran designated as the fourth official.
Where to Watch Live: Sony Six (See Full List Here)
You can watch the live streaming match of Brazil and Croatia via the tournament’s official site, FIFA.COM, or ESPN and ITV.
Live Score: FIFA.com
The match certainly promises to be a high scoring affair with both teams stocked up with plenty of attackers. Brazil easily boasts of the best attacking side in the tournament. With Fred, Hulk, Neymar and Oscar expected to led their charge, the former champions will have no mercy at even the mere sight of goal.
But Croatia is sure to put up a solid defensive performance and try to contain the hosts throughout the 90 mins. The Croats will settle even for a point from this ‘colossal’ fixture and Scholari will be too well aware of Niko Kovac’s tactics. Mario Mandzukic, the talisman of the Croatian attack remains the notable absentee from this fixture after picking up a suspension in his earlier match. The Bayern striker has been in great form this season and his services will be dearly missed.
The Blazers won both their last 2 warm-up matches against Mali at home and Australia in Brazil and are now set to silence the raucous home crowd by relying on the formidable midfield duo Rakitic and Modric.
The two teams met in the 2006 World Cup and Brazil narrowly edged Croatia 1-0. Anotehr friendly match in August 2005 ended in a draw 1-1. Brazil, the favorites this time, have won the cup a record of five times while Croatia enjoyed their best finish in 1998 when they got the third place.
Predction: 3-0 to Brazil
Players to watch out for:
Croatia – Pletikosa has been one of Croatia’s finest players over the years and the veteran will be looking for one more roll of the dice. He stands between Brazil and their goal routing and the goal keeper will have to get all his experience into play to see this one through.
Brazil – Neymar will certainly be the man to watch out for. The Barcelona star has been touted to become the ‘next big thing’ for the Samba boys and he has already proved to be an invaluable asset to them. He stands a chance to emerge as the top goal scorer of the tournament and his journey begins here.
Brazil : (4-3-3) Cesar; Alves, Luiz, Silva, Marcelo; Paulinho, Gustavo; Neymar, Oscar, Hulk; Fred.
Croatia : (4-4-2) Pletikosa; Srna, Lovren, Corluka, Pranjic; Vukojevic, Modric; Perisic, Rakitic, Kovacic; Jelavic.