The ball will be set into motion at the FIFA World Cup 2014 as hosts Brazil get the business underway when they take on Croatia in Thursday’s World Cup opener.
The ball will be set into motion at the FIFA World Cup 2014 as hosts Brazil get the business underway when they take on Croatia in Thursday’s World Cup opener. Playing on home turf can be bear a huge challenge as Brazil seeks to relieve the suffocating pressure that has engulfed the team in the build-up to the tournament.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has the luxury of being able to field the same team that destroyed world champions Spain 3-0 in the final of last year’s Confederations Cup, with Barcelona forward Neymar the focal point of a powerful and settled line-up. The five-time champions are expected to qualify from their group without too much trouble but Barcelona defender Dani Alves admitted the Selecao were nervous in their bid to win the World Cup.
Brazil must not take Croatia lightly as the latter are team that are full of stars. The likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are the ones to look out for. Bayern Munich striker Mario Manduzkic is suspended after receiving a red-card in the previous international game. But Real Madrid’s Luka Modric said that the key to the game would be the midfield battle, admitting the task of taking on Brazil on their own backyard is a daunting task.
Speaking to the reporters Modric said, “”Virtually every game is decided in the midfield. In most situations the winner is the team that has the better midfield. I hope that we can show our qualities and can beat Brazil. But this will of course be very difficult.”
The only question mark for tournament ‘favourites’ Brazil for the match at the new Corinthians Arena would be the dip in form for Chelsea midfielder Oscar. But Scolari, who was the brains behind Brazil’s last World Cup triumph in 2002, is likely to stick with his tried-and-tested winning formula against 18th-ranked Croatia after the same 11 edged past Serbia 1-0 in a friendly last week.
The match will be played in the 61,600-capacity Corinthians Arena, which was delayed by accidents in which three workers were killed.
Neymar – Brazil: The Barcelona forward will carry his side’s huge expectations at the World Cup. Neymar may not have been in the best form for his club Barcelona but will look to reverse the fortunes in Brazil colours.
Luka Modric – Croatia: Much of Croatia’s midfield link-up will depend on their star player, Luka Modric. The Real Madrid player, who has bagful of creativity and passing ability, will look to unlock the Brazilian defences.
Probable Starting Line-up for Brazil: Cesar (GK); Alves, Luiz, Silva, Marcelo; Gustavo, Paulinho; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred.
Probable Starting Line-up for Croatia: Pletikosa (GK); Srna, Lovren, Corluka, Pranjic; Vukojevic, Modric; Perisic, Rakitic, Kovacic; Olic