Sao Paulo, June 12 :
Brazil, host team and big favourites to win World Cup 2014, are looking to begin the campaign with a victory in Thursday’s opening match, and the underdogs Croatia would need do quite a bit to avoid a defeat in Sao Paulo.
The five-time World Cup champion won 15 out of the recent 16 matches, including victories over strong teams such as Italy and Spain.
Athough they might not have entertained the spectators, but Brazil did enough to scare their opponents.
There was no need for Brazil to make any change to the already-excellent squad or formation. Neymar and the other Brazilian attackers would force great pressure on Croatia’s defence. Brazilian defenders would also fight hard to cut the connection between the Croatia’s forwards and midfielders.
“Brazil has the best players, and they can win the World Cup,” said Croatia captain Darijo Srna.
“All we have to do is to make the process less easy.”
Croatian head coach Niko Kovac said a draw would be acceptable for the team. Croatia had a brand to control the ball and they would continue with that Thursday.
Brazil was tipped to win the match, but there were still chances for the Croatians. First of all, Brazil had played Panama and Serbia before the World Cup, but they didn’t win comfortably. The two warm-up matches might bring fatigue to the host team, and on the other side of the pitch, Croatia were full in strength.
Secondly, Croatia had a choice to change their regular 4-3-3 formation to 4-2-3-1. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic had enough talent to play play-maker, and one more attacker would create more possibilities for Croatia to score.
The two teams had only met once in the previous 19 World Cups. Brazil edged Croatia 1-0 in 2006 in an evenly fought match. Croatia had a tradition to play the “dark horses”, and Modric had the ability to change the match, so it would be no surprise if Croatia win the match before the 60,000 home crowd.