The curtain raiser on the greatest show on Earth kicks off today at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo as hosts Brazil take on a spirited Croatian side to kickstart one month of footballing extravaganza.
Scoreline: Brazil 3 vs Croatia 1
The teams starting lineup:
Brazil: Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, L.Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar, Fred
Croatia: Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaijko. Brozovic, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Olic, Jelavic
Players to look out for:
Luka Modric of Croatia, who ended the season as a crucial cog in the Real Madrid machine, will likely partner Barcelona new-recruit Ivan Rakitic. Rakitic’s arrival at the Nou Camp put paid to Cesc Fabregas’s three-years at his boyhood club, so much is expected of the 26-year-old. Inter Milan’s prodigious Mateo Kovacic makes up a quite forbidding midfield for Niko Kovac’s side, who certainly won’t be making up the numbers.
Neymar of Brazil , The tricky winger-cum-second striker provides the ammunition as well as the goals in abundance in the absence of any proficient striker. His all-round ability to press high up the pitch, and run into spaces quickly in transition is Brazil’s evident strategy.
Moreover, he is never afraid of taking defenders one-on-one, which is his and probably Brazil’s biggest asset. His ability to take on defenders and induce fouls means that he is Brazil’s gameplan at the showpiece event.