Opening day preview

Thursday 12th June 2014 sees the start of the 20th World Cup finals.  All eyes will be focused on the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo as Brazil take on Croatia.

Whenever Brazil performs in the World Cup is an exciting time for many, and this time they will have the added pressure of host nation expectation.  They are up against Croatia.  Croatia qualified via the play-offs, beating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate, having finished 2nd in their group behind Belgium.

Croatia are unbeaten in their last 5 matches, since they were beaten 0-2 at Hampden Park by Scotland last October.  This is their 4th appearance at the finals stage, having missed out last time in 2010.

Brazil is the only nation to have competed at every World Cup, and have been beaten just once in their past 21 internationals.  That defeat came in Basel, when a Dani Alves own goal saw them lose 0-1 to Switzerland.  Having gone out at the Quarter-Finals stage in the last two World Cup tournaments, Brazil is expecting nothing less than to win the tournament.

These two countries have only met twice before, and the last meeting was at the 2006 World Cup when Kaka’s goal gave Brazil a 1-0 win in Berlin.  The first ever meeting between the two nations was a year earlier in August 2005 when Niko Kranjcar put Croatia in front before Ricardinho equalised for a 1-1 draw.

The other two countries in this group, Mexico and Cameroon, play on Friday.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
BRAZIL: Neymar
CROATIA: Luca Modric

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