Finally, we’re just a few days away from the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world – The 2014 FIFA World Cup. Hosts Brazil will kick-off the tournament in the opening match against underdogs Croatia. The ‘favorites’ on paper, they’ll be looking to start strong to ensure their Cup campaign against an opposition that while they may not appear too threatening, shouldn’t be underestimated…
Brazil is placed in a relatively easy group which it will most likely top considering the caliber of players in their side. Besides Croatia, they face the likes of Mexico and Cameroon.
Brazil’s 23-man squad includes star forward Neymar, midfielders Oscar, Paulinho and Willian, defenders Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Dani Alves, and goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The players have already proven their worth at the Confederations Cup last year which their side then went on to win.
But Croatia may still have a shot with supreme strikers Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic, midfielder Luka Modric and defenders Vedran Corluka and Dejan Lovren. Captain Darjio Srna is a well-experienced player with over 100 international appearances, and veteran goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa should serve as a good guide against the attack-minded Brazilians.
Croatia will also be looking to put-up a strong front so Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari won’t be taking anything for granted. They failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but managed to qualify for the knockout rounds in the Euro 2012 tournament. They did, however take third place in the 1994 World Cup in USA.
Five-time World Champions Brazil will need to take inspiration from former legends like Pele, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto, Cafu and Ronaldinho, if they want to win the Cup on home-ground.
The last time the ‘Samba Boys’ lifted the trophy was at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, thanks largely to the heroics of Ronaldo and also under the management of Scolari. Scolari knows what it takes to win so it’s safe to assume Brazil are in good hands.
The opener should be a great introduction to the most-watched sporting event on television, and we cannot wait for Neymar and his boys to light up Sao Paulo!