After a pretty forgettable opening ceremony, it was time for what audiences really wanted to see on the opening day of the Brazil 2014 World Cup. Brazil put out a largely predictable but effective looking squad against a Croatia that were missing some key names due to injury. With NeymarJr, Hulk, Fred and Oscar marshalling the front line for Brazil, it was not surprising to see them creating all the early chances. Croatia seemed to come with a plan of containing the Brazillian attack and then hitting them on the counter and this seemed to work as they got a goal in the 10th minute against the run of play albeit from a Marcelo own goal. That own goal by Marcelo was the first ever own goal by a Brazillian at the World Cup in all 98 games they have played in the competition. With Croatia having not lost a game under Coach Nico Kovac tension was beginning to mount amongst the fans and even the players. Neymar became the first player in the 2014 World Cup to pick up a yellow card for his foul on Modric but he turn from villain to hero a few minutes later when his long range effort that was scuffed trickled past the Croatian goalkeeper into the back of the net for the equalizer in the 29th minute. Brazil continued to mount pressure but the scoreline remained even till halftime. The animation by Brazil Coach Felipe Scolari didn’t seem to have extended to the dressing room as Brazil came out in uneventful fashion for the second half. Croatia on the otherhand were not taking any risks or trying to be more attack minded but they did expose the fragility of the Brazil defense with a few chances by Olic and a long range shot from Luca Modric but it was the Brazillian who had the luck of the draw. After Neymar was fouled from a chance that looked like a certain second goal, where it was 2 against 3 on the attack, Fred fell under what looked liked minimal contact from Lovren in the 18 yard box and the penalty was awarded to Brazil. Neymar stepped up and took the penalty which just grazed past the Goal keeper’s finger tips before shaking the back of the net. This seemed to awaken the Croatians and they went on the attack creating chance after chance but their forward play left them exposed in the back. Oscar who had put out an excellent display all evening killed the game off with a third goal after Ramires who came on to replace Neymar and Bernard who also was a replacement for Hulk started the counter. Brazil had won 8 of their last 9 competitive games and this 3-1 win set a good tone for their quest for a 6th World Cup trophy.
Written by Tega Onojaife. Follow @tegasupreme