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Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014 FIFA World Cup Kick Off: Brazil-Croatia Preview

The countdown is over and the world is ready as the 2014 FIFA World kicks off today at the Arena de Sao Paulo in Brazil. In a journey that started in 2007 when the international football federation, FIFA, elected Brazil as the hosts for the 2014 football gala, the Samba nation welcomes 32 nations to its largest city for the opening ceremony and opening match which will be watched by billions of people across the world.

Brazil who have won the FIFA World Cup a record 5 times will face European nation, Croatia, in the opening match at the Arena de Sao Paolo. Luis Felipe’s side are among the favorites to lift the title and will have home advantage as they host the World Cup for the first time in 64 years. 

The Selecao will name a strong starting lineup against Niko Kovac’s men. All eyes will be on young Neymar to deliver in the Brazilian yellow and blue colours with the tricky winger expected to be the creative spark around Hulk and Fred. Toronto FC’s Julio Cesar will be between the sticks with Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Marcelo providing cover at the back. Premier League star Paulinho and Bayern’s Luis Gustavo will double up in midfield with Oscar and Neymar occupying the wings.

Mario Mandzukic will be a big miss for the Croats he will be serving his suspension after his red card against Iceland in the play offs. However, Kovac still has potent talent within his ranks that could trouble Thiago and co. Nikica Jelavic will likely lead the assault alongside the dangerous Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic. Ivan Rakitic and Luca Modric can be a match for any midfield in world football and the La Liga duo will keep things ticking in midfield for the Vatreni.

The two sides have met only once in a world cup match with the Selecao winning 1-0 in the 2006 tournament.

Opta Stats
· The host nation has never lost their opening World Cup game, with the 20 previous hosts winning 14 and drawing six of their openers.

· Brazil's one previous tournament as hosts saw them defeat fellow 2014 Group A members Mexico 4-0 in their opening game (1950).

· Eight of the last 12 opening matches at World Cups have produced one goal or less.

· Brazil are taking part in their 20th World Cup. They are the only team to have taken part in every single tournament.

· A Selecao have won the most games (67) and scored the most goals (210) at the World Cup.

· Brazil have won eight of their last nine World Cup games in the group stages (1 draw). Their last defeat dates back to 23 June 1998 against Norway (1-2).

· Croatia have only conceded 11 goals in 13 World Cup games (0.85/game). It's the best ratio among the 32 teams taking part in 2014.

· Croatia's last nine World Cup games have produced six red cards.

· Brazil won their one previous competitive meeting with Croatia 1-0 in the 2006 World Cup; Kaka scored the winner in Berlin that day.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!