Preview: Brazil v Croatia - 2014 FIFA World Cup

Akshay Gurumoorthi
Brazil take on Croatia in the opening fixture of the tournamnt

The greatest showpiece in football kicks off at Sau Paulo’s Arena Corinthians, with hosts Brazil taking on Croatia. This would be the first ever World Cup match played on Brazilian soil since the debacle of the Maracanazo 64 years ago. Brazil go into the match carrying the hopes of an entire nation while Croatia would expect to cause a big upset early in the tournament, and set off their campaign with a win over the favourites.


Arena de Sao Paulo (A.K.A. Arena de Corinthians) located in Sao Paulo, will kick-off this year’s edition of FIFA World Cup. It has a capacity of 65,000 people and is at an altitude of 792 m. Nicknamed 'Itaquerao', the stadium was inaguarated just a month ago after its completion way past the deadline. The relatively high altitude could be a small yet decisive factor in determining the trajectory of the ball during the match.

Kickoff Time

June 13 – 01.30 am - Indian Standard Time (IST)*

June 12 – 5.00 pm - Local Time

Possible Starting Line ups

Luis Scolari has clearly indicated in the friendlies that he wouldn't experiment with the squad. He shall stick with the team that has delivered results over the course of the last year with Neymar being the most crucial member of the team.

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Cesar; Alves, Luiz, Silva, Marcelo; Gustavo, Paulinho; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred.

Croatia have a deceivingly good line up with Modric and Rakitic controlling the midfield. Although Mandzukic is suspended, they can be expected to be strong enough to challenge Brazil thoroughly.

Croatia (4 -2-3-1): Pletikosa; Srna, Lovren, Corluka, Pranjic; Vukojevic, Modric; Perisic, Rakitic, Kovacic; Jelavic.

How they will Line Up


* Danijel Pranjic was injured in Croatia’s last warm-up game, and might not be able to make the team for the Brazil game. His place might be taken by the second choice right back Sime Vrsaljko.

Key Facts and Stats

- The host nation has never lost the opening match of the World Cup, Brazil have history on their side in this encounter.

- Brazil have never lost to Croatia in an official FIFA match, with one win and a draw, both of which were played over 8 years ago.

- This will be the first ever World Cup match to employ two unique additions to the tournament, Goal Line Technology and Easily Vanishable Spray.

- Brazil have won 15 of their last 16 matches, the solitary loss coming against Switzerland. That was the immediate match following their Confederations Cup triumph, which they

lost 1-0.

- Croatia have conceded just 11 goals in 13 World Cup games. It's the best ratio among teams taking part in the World Cup.

- Croatia's last nine World Cup matches have produced six red cards.

- Eight of the last 12 opening games at World Cups have produced no more than one goal.

Key Battles

Neymar v Darijo Srna

Neymar, is undoubtedly Brazil's most important player in this tournament and he will be expected to step up. The man facing him at right-back would be the Croatian captain, Darijo Srna. Being the most-capped player in the history of Croatia, Srna comes in with loads of experience and has played the 2006 World Cup.

Neymar's exciting brand of football is sure to be at loggerheads against Srna's resilient defending. Neymar has shown an inherent propensity to drift towards the center as the game progresses, which would essentilly be a thorn in Srna’s positioning on his flank. The way he deals with that would show us his capability against the big guns. Whatever happens, an interesting battle on the wings is sure to pan out.

Luka Modric v Luis Gustavo

This one is more of a midfield battle where the outcome would be decisive in the result. Croatia's Modric is on a high after winning the Champions League and coming off a spectacular season with Real Madrid.

Gustavo, on the other hand, has been having a quite yet effective season at Wolfsburg. Scolari’s faith in Gustavo has been well advertised by` the fact that he has been a constant in the national side ever since Scolari took over. Playing on the left side of a defensive duo, Modric will be all over his shoulders looking to find an opening. Modric's skill with the ball is sure to be tested by Gustavo's tough tackling and positional expertise.


Brazil have been regarded as the favourites for quite some time, and I doubt the outcome of the first match is going to change that. Brazil's superiority in all departments shall come across as their most important tool in the victory.

Predicted Scoreline : Brazil 2 - 0 Croatia

Match Officials

On field Referee: Yuichi NISHIMURA (JPN)

Assistant Referee 1: Toru SAGARA(JPN)

Assistant Referee 2: Toshiyuki NAGI(JPN)

Fourth official: Alireza FAGHANI(IRN)

Edited by Staff Editor


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