The waiting is over. After four long years, the World Cup is back and what better way to get us started than a game featuring host nation Brazil, the five-time winners and football’s spiritual guardians.
The opening ceremony stars at 7pm but we’ve got all the best build-up for you here, with our live blog running from 8am to midnight every single day of the tournament.
Brazil suffered a scare when leading forward, and poster boy for the whole tournament, Neymar went down heavily in training, but thankfully for the five-time World Cup winners his ankle quickly recovered. That means he will join Oscar and Hulk in supporting lone striker Fred.
Croatia are without their leading man in attack as Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic is suspended for the opening game having been sent off in the qualifying play-off against Iceland back in November. That means Hull’s Nikica Jelavic could take his place in attack, though moving Ivica Olic to the middle or bringing in Eduardo are also options. Danijel Pranjic is missing from the defence as he suffered an ankle injury in a warm-up friendly against Australia and Sime Vrsaljko could come in. Alternatively Dejan Lovren could move wide from a central position.
Luiz Felipe Scolari “To all the Brazilians I want to tell you the time has arrived and we are going to go together. This is our World Cup. They are always trying to improve and all this makes us, even when we are feeling sad, forget the sadness and feel the beauty around us. Arriving here at the airport, at the Corinthians stadium, it is a beautiful stadium and we forget the sad aspects and think of the 99 per cent of positive things in our lives.”
Niko Kovac: “We will try to keep the ball as long as possible but create chances whenever possible, we are not going to park the bus tomorrow. We are going to attack … because Brazil is so strong that if you want to succeed against them you have to score. Of course that is easier said than done. However much we may be thinking about Brazil, I think Brazil will be thinking about us. Personally I think Mr Scolari may be losing sleep when thinking about playing Croatia.”