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#Brazinga2014 Match Preview: Brazil v/s Croatia

Thursday, 12 June 2014 - 5:16pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk
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Finally the four year wait is over. The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks-off on Thursday at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, with the hosts Brazil facing Croatia in the Group A opening match. The last time Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1950, they lost in the finals to Uruguay. This time, Brazil have some different plans.

Brazil will be high on confidence as they have immense home support from their local fans, which is a great boost for the team. Another factor which favor Brazil is that their head coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, has previously won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. Brazil's last two World Cup performances has been poor as per their standards. In 2006, they were knocked out in the Quarter-Final round, after Theirry Henry's goal in the 57th minute. In the 2010 World Cup, Brazil lost to the Netherlands again in the Quarter-Final round, as they lost 2-1 despite taking an early lead in the match. 

But despite the previous disappiontment, Brazil are a strong side for this edition of the World Cup. Here are some stats which prove Brazil's strength:

 

Though Brazil have a strong squad, all the eyes on 22-year old Neymar. The young winger has showcased his potential and excellent skills with the Catalan club, FC Barcelona as he score 9 goals and made 8 assists in 26 league appearances. Neymar's performances at Santos often led to the comparisions between him and Pele. In 2011, Neymar helped Santos win their first Copa Libertadores trophy since 1963. The last time when Santos won it was when Brazilian legend Pelé was playing for the club. Neymar, who is the supposed star for the World Cup, states that he is not aiming at personal glory.  Neymar said that:  "I don’t want to be the best player in the World Cup, I don’t want to be the top scorer, I want to win the World Cup. Individually, whatever happens, happens but what I want is to win the World Cup with my team." - Daily Mirror 

Croatia will have a tough time against Brazil as they are less experienced in the World Cup. They have made only three appearances in the World Cup. Their best result was in their first ever World Cup in 1998, when they finished 3rd. In 2002 and 2006, Croatia were knocked out in the Group-Stages itself. Croatia failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It will be even more difficult for Croatia as their main striker, Mario Mandzukic, will miss the match due to an injury. Luka Modric will be the key player for Croatia in the midfield against Brazil. His performances with Real Madrid were impressive as he helped the club wil the UEFA Champions League and Copa Del Rey.

Both the teams have immensely talented players. Here are the key players to watch out for in Brazil vs Croatia:

AFP

Neymar: He will be the highlight of the match. This World Cup, he will be wearing the iconic No 10 shirt, previously worn by Brazilian legend Pele.

AFP

Luka Modric: The midfielder will be in the heart of Croatian midfield. His performances were instrumental for Real Madrid's domestic and European success.

AFP

Fred: He helped Brazil win the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013, as he scored five goals in the campaign. He is the most experienced player in the Brazillian attacking line-up and is expected to lead the team from the front.




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