|World Cup 2014|
ScheduleThursday, 12 June 2014 at 20:00 GMT / 21:00 UK / 01:30 IST
VenueArena Corinthians (São Paulo)
Next Thursday, Brazil will measure forces with Croatia at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo for the World Cup 2014 opening match.
After a bland and uninspired performance against Serbia last Friday, Brazil, who still managed to win the match thanks to a lonely goal by Fred during the second-half, will now have to deal with the responsibility of playing the World Cup opening match in front of thousands of vibrant fans and it will certainly be interesting to see if Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men will be able to withstand such copious amount of pressure.
Brazil are on a fantastic nine match run without suffering defeats, after a somehow surprising stumble at the hands of an inspired Switzerland side back in August 2013. Scolari was able to reinvent a team that almost looked lost and out of ideas and, despite all the criticism, he managed to place Brazil among the top World Cup contenders once again. With a fairly attacking prone team, the Canarinha will need to take extra care with their defence. In fact, out of the nine friendlies Brazil have recently won, only, let’s say, three were against “high calibre” teams, and in all of them (against Portugal, Chile and recently Serbia), the Canarinha experienced some difficulties in claiming the match.
Scolari will probably not have any last minute headaches concerning injured players as he will certainly have all his players at his disposal for the opening clash against Croatia.
As for Croatia, the match against Brazil will present a good opportunity for them to make a stand at the competition. Niko Kovac’s boys are on a positive run of five matches without defeats and they will surely want to extend their positive streak against Brazil, who undoubtedly are one of the favourite teams to win the tournament. Croatia’s preparation match against Australia last Friday was probably not a good opportunity for Scolari to take notes on what the Balkanic team is actually capable of. Niko Kovac left Mandzukic, Rakitic, and Corluka out of the starting line-up and his side played with a low intensity, which was certainly understandable given there were only a few days until the World Cup start.
Kovac will probably keep pushing his usual 4-2-3-1 tactical style against Brazil, with a playmaking duo formed by Modric and Rakitic dictating the team’s pace from the centre of the pitch. Croatia have an interesting set of players and although they experienced some difficulties to grant their ticket to the World Cup, they surely have what is necessary to pose a serious threat to the home side.
For next Thursday’s clash, Niko Kovac will not be able to count on Danijel Pranjic, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.
Although Brazil are favourites for the World Cup opening clash, Croatia cannot be ruled out of the equation, as they might be able to create a major upset to the tournament hosts.
Stats: W-5 L-0 D-0
Recent Form - WWWWW
Stats: W-3 L-0 D-2
Recent Form - WWDWD
Brazil (4-2-2-2) - J. César - Dani Alves - David Luiz - Thiago Silva - Marcelo - Luiz Gustavo - Ramires - Neymar - Oscar - Hulk - Fred
Croatia (4-2-3-1) - Pletikosa - Srna - Corluka - Lovren - Vida - Modric - Rakitic - Perisic - Kovacic - Olic - Mandzukic