Host nation Brazil take on Croatia in São Paulo at the Arena de São Paulo for the Group A clash, with kick-off from 6:00am AEST.
The pre-World Cup hype has just about reached its crescendo as the biggest tournament on the planet gets set to kick-off under a haze of firework filled skies and a Brazilian carnival atmosphere.
Much has been written and commented on by the world’s media on whether the many World Cup venues will be completed and ready on time. Let’s hope so! The opening match between hosts Brazil and Croatia will get under way in front of a capacity São Paulo crowd all hoping to see their national team of stars get the campaign off to a winning start.
The immense pressure suffocating Brazil (a proud and successful footballing nation) has the country on a virtual stand-by status, as it holds its collective breath with each and every result posted.
Brazil goes into tomorrow morning's clash clear favorites over a Croatian team sadly lacking the class and brilliance across the park from the glory days squad of 1998.
A total of two matches have been played between the countries with Brazil narrowly ahead in the ledger with one win and a draw posted. Historical records normally count for nothing but an interesting stat to please local fans is that a host nation team has never lost an opening World Cup match.
The big issue
The big issue for Croatia will be the loss of powerhouse forward Mario Manzukic.
The tall Bayern Munich star sits out the first game following a red card from their final qualifying match against Iceland. This may leave them with no obvious real attacking target upfront and force a defensive approach in avoiding a potential peppering at the back by the fast counter-attacking juggernaut of Brazil.
Brazil possess an over abundance of attacking options via Neymar, Oscar and Fred but the recent slow start against Serbia will have coach Luiz Felipe Scolari hoping the Selecao’s high intensity will materialise from the opening whistle.
The game breaker
One of the keys to the match will be if Croatian centre-back and captain Vedran Corluka can contain the flair and speed of Neymar.
Experience is certainly on his side with 72 caps for his beloved country and his linking with Luka Modric will critical if Croatia is to control possession and nullify the creativity of Brazil.
Croatian Coach Niko Kovac has been very confident in the lead up and gives his side a great chance of snatching an upset, but his devilish charm and good looks could mask a deeper fear of a massive loss that could ultimately derail their tournament before it gets started.
Like many it would be somewhat foolish to predict against a Brazil victory with the enormous home country support on hand in São Paulo. The humid conditions will also suit the South American team as the game wears on towards the 90th minute.
This opening game will be an enormous start to a long month of caffeine-fuelled mornings and disrupted sleep patterns but football fans alike will relish every single minute of all 64 games that lies ahead.comments