Brazil vs Croatia preview
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is set to kick off with home nation Brazil facing Croatia in the first Group A match.
Both teams have looked impressive in friendlies but expectations amd pressure will be high for Brazil.
Luiz Felipe Scolari won the 2002 World Cup as manager of the South American giants. This time though, he has selected a good mix of young and experienced players. Scolari should field a 4-2-3-1 formation for the tournament opener.
Much has been said about the loss of form of Chelsea’s Oscar, and Scolari will be hoping that the youngster regains his form soon.If his dip continues, another Stamford Bridge star, Willian, can be called upon.
Neymar might be the only illustrious name in the first 11 but as a team, Brazil are solid and a tough nut to crack when they click. Julio Cesar should be the first choice goalie with PSG’s Thiago Silva set to captain the Selecao. Thiago will be partnered in central defence with his club’s new signing David Luiz. Just like Cafu and Roberto Carlos in the 2002 World Cup, expect Daniel Alves and Marcelo to bomb forward and provide crosses for the likes of Fred and Hulk.
Croatia is most likely to play a 4-3-3 formation just like Brazil. Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric and Brazilian-born Sammir will form the midfield trident. Modric will orchestrate the midfield while Kovacic and Sammir will assume the roles of pivot but expect Kovacic to perform attacking duties as well.
Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic and maybe, Ivica Olic will assume the roles of second attackers. If Olic is not playing, then Ivan Perisic might take his place
Croatia could suffer from the absence of Mario Mandzukic, who is suspended following his red card in the play-off game against Iceland back in November.
One man in their squad was born and bred in Brazil. Eduardo has played for Croatia for a long time, though he admitted recently he might even sing both national anthems.
veteran stopper Stipe Pletikosa will have a busy time thwarting the likes of Neymar, Fred and Hulk. Dejan Lovren, who had a decent campaign with Southampton will be the key centre-back for Croatia and he will most likely be partnered by Vedran Corluka who at age 28, is one of the most experienced players in the side. Captain Darijo Srna and Danijel Pranjic will serve as the wingbacks.
The Croats are not a patch on the team that boasted the likes of Davor Suker and Robert Prosinecki, but hosts do not always start well.
Prediction: Brazil 3- 0 Croatia