2014 World Cup Match Day Preview: Day 1

The 2014 World Cup has finally arrived, and it could not start with a better match up between hosts Brazil and 1998 3rd place finishers, Croatia.

On opening day there will be only one match, so today we will be only previewing the game between Brazil and Croatia for Group A of the 2014 World Cup.

Match Info

This game will be played in Sao Paulo at 5pm local time in Brazil. The stadium hosting the opening match of the World Cup is the Arena Corinthians.
Arena Corinthians was constructed in 2014 and it has a capacity of 61,606 people.

For TV times and channels please check your local listings.

These two teams have faced each other twice in past competitions with one tie and one win for Brazil. There has been a total of 3 goals scored in those two matches with Brazil having two goals and Croatia having one.

Game 1 - Brazil vs Croatia

Brazil and Croatia share Group A with Mexico and Cameroon, making this first game of the group a key matchup for both these teams if they want to advance first in the group.

I don't think a tie or a loss by either team will really put them in a difficult situation for the rest of the group games, since i don't think that either of the other two teams in this group will create them any problems.

Brazil has more pressure on their side going into this game. They are the hosts and after winning the Confederations Cup in a convincing fashion last year, everyone expects them not only to finish first in this group but to win the tournament. They will have to come out and dictate the play and expect Scolari's man to do that in this first game. 
Brazil are normally slow starters in these competitions but being at home they will need to change that or risk having the crowed against them instead of being on their side.

Croatia doesn't have any pressure coming into this match. To them, any result will do. Obviously they would love to win or even tie it, but even if they lose against the hosts, their advancement out of the group is not at risk.

I expect it to be a low scoring game with Brazil finding a way to break down Croatia and win the game. Croatia will most likely play in a counter attack, trying to pack the midfield and play on the error of the opponent. Brazil will be given the control of the game and ball and expected to have the vast majority of possession. Croatia will have to defend with high lines and keeping those lines close. The wingers will also have to help the fullbacks in defensive duties since Brazil has very strong players in wide positions.

Players to Watch

From Brazil the obvious choice is Neymar. He is expected to be the big star of the tournament, so he is without a doubt a player that we should all keep our eyes on. Another player will be David Luiz. He likes to dribble out of the defensive zone with the ball at his feet, and against a strong pressing Croatian team this could lead to quick counters.

From Croatia my two choices are Mandzukic and Rakitic. Mandzukic will be critical for Croatia, not only at this game but at any game. Against Brazil he will be asked to play in the space and show up in a finishing area to score, he won't get many chances so he will have to make them count. Rakitic will be the motor of the midfield. Against this Brazilian team, his passing, recovering the ball, and dictating the dynamics of his midfield will be important on trying to stop the high flying Brazilians.

Match-day 1 - Staff Picks 

Pedro: Brazil 2-1 Croatia
Kon: Brazil 2-0 Croatia
Iain: Brazil 3-0 Croatia



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