After four years, 820 qualifying matches involving over 202 teams, the nation synonymous with the beautiful game is finally ready to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. With the build up to the tournament marred in controversy, one can expect the protests to be replaced with passionate support of the national team. The protests have been legitimate as Brazil looks to host the most expensive World Cup in history, at a time when the people feel the funds could be used to improve service delivery and infrastructure of the country.
Brazil – A nation full of hope
Coming off the back of a successful Confederations Cup 12 months ago, the Brazilian national team restored their identity. With an impressive 3-0 victory over world and European champions Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup public belief returned to its high expectant norms.
Under the management of head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who successfully led Brazil to their last World Cup title, confidence is sky high within the camp. Scolari has not made it a secret to the nation that he is confident in the hosts winning the trophy on home soil. Ahead of the opener against Croatia addressed press;
“To all Brazilians I want to tell you the time has arrived. This is our World Cup,” he said.
“There are seven steps. The first step is tomorrow against Croatia. After that we have six steps that we want to go up if we want to win the World Cup.”
World Cup Openning Match: Brazil vs. Croatia
Looking to the opening match against the hosts, it’s hard to look beyond the host nation. Not only are the hosts the bookies favourite, no host nation has lost the opening game of a World Cup.
Croatia coach Niko Kovac said of Brazil: “Let’s be realistic, they are the hosts and a great favourite.
Brazil looks set to start with the team that dispatched Spain last summer at the Confederations Cup, with no injury concerns. Croatia are without suspended Bayern Munich striker, Mario Mandzukic. The striking birth will therefore be given to either Eduardo or Nikica Jelavic.
In their only previous encounters Brazil won 1-0 at the 2006 World Cup courtesy of a Kaka goal and drew 1-1 the previous year in a friendly. Yet again Croatia will have their backs against the wall, with their best chance being frustrating the Brazilians to get the highly expectant fans on their back. Having scored 30 goals and conceded 2 in their last nine matches, facing an opponent that has failed to win in its last four World Cup games, the match seems set to have the Brazilians in a samba mood early on at 2014 FIFA World Cup.