Brazil: Cesar; Alves, Silva, Luiz, Marcelo; Paulinho, Gustavo; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred. Croatia: Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaijko; Kovacic, Modric; Rakitic, Perisic, Olic; Jelavic.
Story of the match:
- Neymar scores twice for hosts
- Croatia angry at penalty decision
- Oscar also on target for Brazil
- Vanishing spray and goal-line technology used for first time at World Cup
Brazil are off and running.
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — It was Dia dos Namorados on Thursday, the Brazilian equivalent of Valentine’s Day, which meant there were chocolates and flowers and couples holding hands tucked among the sea of yellow jerseys that stretched from the Itaquera neighborhood over to Jardins. From sunrise all the way until the shimmering moon peeked above the skyline, Brazilians showed their passion for one another, and for soccer, as the World Cup began.
But love — in any form — is a complicated matter. While there were moments of heat and adoration, particularly when Neymar scored the first of his two goals with a shot that bounced in off the post, Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Croatia hardly made for the perfect date. Inside and outside Arena Corinthians, emotions were mixed even before a referee’s decision in favor of Brazil plunged the tournament into controversy in the first game.
I’m feeling rather sorry for Croatia who were quite hard done by. Neymar should have been sent off before both goals for a high elbow, a soft soft Peno, and perhaps an equaliser unfairly disallowed.
As it Happened.
- 11′ It Was An Auto-Gol!
- 26′ Reeee -nope YELLOW card
- 29′ GOAAAALL NEYMARR
- 69′ Penalty To Brazil! Brazil Leads 2-1!
- 84′ No Goal
- 92′ Gooooooooooool Brazil!
The moments before kick-off had been typically rousing. A passionate Brazilian crowd delivered another fervent rendition of the national anthem. Croatia were no more than an afterthought to most outside the thousand travelling fans.
Brazil actually fell behind early when Marcelo turned the ball into his own net in the 11th minute, after Ivica Olic had sprinted down the left side and sent a dangerous cross in front of the goal.
Marcelo, who was retreating, basically ran the ball into his own net. Most in the announced crowd of 62,103 stood in stunned silence and then began booing and whistling angrily, having witnessed Brazil’s first own goal in World Cup history.
But when they needed a moment of magic, the man whose image had been splashed across every newspaper and TV station in Brazil provided it. Chelsea midfielder Oscar fought through two challenges and found Neymar. When the striker turned for goal, moving the ball on to his left foot, he had one thing in mind. The contact was not pure but the shot was unerringly accurate, creeping in from 25 yards, glancing the right post on its way.
50 Games 32 Goals And now Brazils 8th highest top scorer..
And he’s just 22 years old
Neymar pressed “rb” + “b” on that shot. Smart move.
#fifa #fineseshot #BRAvsCRO
His second, 19 minutes before the end, was altogether more controversial. Dejan Lovren was judged to have fouled Fred in the box. Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot, despite replays showing little contact had been made. Neymar converted, the ball deflecting in off the out-stretched arm of goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, to spark scenes of celebration.
Lol Neymar didn’t have the bottle to try an Abdoun
#pussy #AbdounTheGreat #NottinghamForestJoke
Oscar put a gloss on the final score with a tremendous late goal that his man-of-the-match performance warranted. With Croatia committed upfield, he burst forward and toe-poked in from 25 yards, taking Pletikosa by surprise with a low drive.
It ensured a 10th consecutive win for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side but Brazil demonstrated flaws and fragilities. They did not play with the fluency or flamboyance that saw them swat aside Spain to win the Confederations Cup so emphatically last year. I still stand by my prediction that both these two sides will progress to the next round, but Brazil are going to have to play much better if they want to win the World Cup.
Man of the Match
The Referee – Great influence in helping Brazil claim victory and excellent spray paint work! 10/10
1 Stipe Pletikosa goalkeeper, Rostov
2 Sime Vrsaljko defender, Genoa
3 Danijel Pranjic defender, Panathinaikos
4 Ivan Perisic midfielder, Wolfsburg
5 Vedran Corluka defender, Lokomotiv Moscow
6 Dejan Lovren defender, Southampton
7 Ivan Rakitic midfielder, Sevilla
8 Ognjen Vukojevic midfielder, Dynamo Kyiv
9 Nikica Jelavic forward, Hull City
10 Luka Modric midfielder, Real Madrid
11 Darijo Srna (captain) defender, Shakhtar Donetsk
12 Oliver Zelenika goalkeeper, Lokomotiva Zagreb
13 Gordon Schildenfeld defender, Panathinaikos
14 Marcelo Brozovic midfielder, Dinamo Zagreb
15 Ivan Mocinic midfielder, Rijeka
16 Ante Rebic forward, Fiorentina
17 Mario Mandzukic forward, Bayern Munich
18 Ivica Olic forward, Wolfsburg
19 Sammir midfielder, Getafe
20 Mateo Kovacic midfielder, Internazionale
21 Domagoj Vida defender, Dynamo Kyiv
22 Eduardo forward, Shakhtar Donetsk
23 Danijel Subasic goalkeeper, Monaco
Mario Mandzukic scored 33% of Croatia’s goals in qualifying and the rangy Bayern Munich striker is crucial to a team whose other attacking options include the 34-year-old Ivica Olic, the Hull striker Nikica Jelavic and the former Arsenal forward Eduardo, who has flitted in and out of the Shakhtar Donetsk team this season. Sadly Mandzukic, sent off in the play-off win over Iceland, will be suspended for the opener against Brazil.
Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
Josip Simunic. Fined for an offensive salute after the play-off last month. Throw in the odd studs-up challenge and you have a player with one foot in the departure lounge.
A no-nonsense, blood-and-guts defensive midfielder who captained Croatia at the 2006 finals and broke his nose so often he admitted he had “stopped counting”, Niko Kovac has been described by Niko Kranjcar as “always a leader, on and off the pitch”. However the 42-year-old has little on his managerial CV besides a spell with the Under-21s and as an assistant at Salzburg.
Croatia’s greatest rivalry is with Serbia, an enmity born before the break-up of Yugoslavia. The two nations met for the first time in qualifying, with relations not helped by the then managers’ shared hatred – Croatia’s Igor Stimac had once told his opposite number, Sinisa Mihajlovic, that “I pray to God your whole family gets murdered”; Mihajlovic, meanwhile, had once identified Stimac as “the only person I could strangle with my bare hands”. Perhaps fortunately, both had left their posts within weeks of their second meeting.
The Tivoli Ecoresort in Praia do Forte offers guaranteed luxury and serenity. This will be particularly welcome for veterans of the 2006 World Cup, when the peace and quiet of their base in Bad Brückenau was interrupted in the middle of the group stages by a concert played within yards of their luxury verandahs by British hard rockers Uriah Heep and Deep Purple.
How they qualified
Steamrollered by Belgium in qualifying, but recovered to put Iceland out in a two-legged play-off.
World Cup high
Their first World Cup remains their best effort, getting to the semi-finals in 1998 after putting out Germany.
World Cup low
Losing twice to England whilst failing to qualify in 2010. Or perhaps losing twice to Scotland this time round.
Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Nikica Jelavić (Hull City).
Title odds: 150/1
The stereotype is …
Cultured midfielders, rampaging wingbacks and gifted forwards with a touch of genius to them.
The reality is …
A team that should be a lot more interesting than they actually are. Mandzukic the attacking spearhead and Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic swarming behind him.
What are they known for?
Rocky outcrops 44 per cent
The golden generation 30 per cent
Cheap package holidays 23 per cent
Adrian Chiles 3 per cent
How Google translates the national anthem
Mila, much as you are a celebrity, You are dear to us only, Honey, where you are straight, Honey, where are you mountains!
A larynx-straining 14 verses, although only four are usually sung.
How to dress like their fans
Commentator’s go-to stat
The first country to recognise Croatia’s independence in 1991 was Iceland. Who Croatia have just knocked out in a play-off. There’s gratitude for you.