Brazil start with a win

June 13, 2014 at 12:11 am
Posted under: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil, Brazil News, News

Brazil celebrate a goal by Neymar. Getty Images
Brazil celebrate a goal by Neymar. Getty Images

Brazil opened their quest for a record 6th World Cup title with a 3-1 win over Croatia in front of a noisy, partisan crowd.

The game kicked off with the release of white doves into of a sea of yellow clad supporters at São Paulo’s, Arena Corinthians. Brazil fielded an attacking line-up featuring Oscar, Hulk and Neymar while Croatia were without striker Mario Mandzukic – who was suspended for the game after picking up a red card in Croatia’s final qualifying match.

Brazil who are unbeaten in competitive games at home for 39 years started with their intentions clear and attacked Croatia right from the start. The hosts held most of the early possession with the Europeans deciding to sit back and try to catch Brazil on the counter by exposing the space created by the forward pressing Brazilian full backs. It was a tactic that proved to work after Croatia stunned the hosts when a swift counter led to Croatian striker Ivica Olic, sending in a dangerous ball from the left wing, that Brazil defender Marcelo turned in to his own net for an own goal in the 7th minute.

The goal seemed to galvanise Brazil and they pressed forward with more intent to try and find an equalizer. That eventually came in the 23rd minute after wonderboy, Neymar, was left in space outside the Croatian box and sent in a low shot through a crowd of players that beat Pletikosa and went in off the inside of the post. The jeers for a yellow card Neymar had picked up only minutes earlier quickly turned into rapturous cheers as the stadium erupted after the Brazilian star opened his team’s, and his own account.
Brazil continued to press for the rest of the half but were unable to find the final pass or touch needed to take the lead.

Croatia started the second half better and frustrated Brazil. They played with better structure and their playmaker, Luka Modric, spent more time on the ball and less time defending. But there was always the sense that if Brazil found their rhythm they would eventually find a way to break the Croatian defence.

That wasn’t quite the case. Instead Brazil were awarded a questionable penalty that Neymar stepped up to convert in the 72nd minute. His second goal gave the hosts the lead for the first time in the game.
Croatia ensured a nervy end to the game for Brazil by creating a number of decent chances, but weren’t able to convert any of them. Oscar finally put the result to rest when he fired home from outside the box in extra time to give Brazil a 3-1 win in their opening game.

The win takes Brazil to the top of Group A and a step closer to qualifying for the knockout round of the competition. But they will have to be sharper than they were tonight if they plan on lifting the trophy come July 13th.

By Farren Collins

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