It was a gala opening ceremony to kick off the biggest sporting spectacle of the planet; what with Mr Blatter suggesting football might be a game appreciated even by life on other planet – it sure lived up to its billing. The opening match of the tournament had to live up to its hype…a lacklustre one sided match would have caused a lot of disappointment and created an atmosphere of gloom on the opening day.
But it was not the case. Croatians played a beautiful game and to be fair to them the final score line doesn’t show the entire truth. Brazil just about managed to scrape through to victory. The hosts will be relieved that they ended on the winning side, but surely this is not how they would have wanted to start the campaign. Though Brazil began on the offensive Croatia quickly signalled a warning when Olic came within an inch of scoring as Ivan Pericic’s cross was headed a little wide by Olic. That should have been the first goal. However, Brazil managed to recover from their nervous start when their forwards attacked the Croatian goal time and again, but there was no real impact.
A couple of minutes after Brazil’s failed attacks, when Olic was given some space down the left, he cut a low cross into the penalty area which eluded both Jelavic and the Brazil centre-backs, only for Marcelo to score an own goal – the first in the history of Brazilian football. The entire nation was shocked and this match threatened Brazil’s campaign seriously.
But that seemed like an injection of fresh aggression and enthused life into Brazil and they went all out in an aggressive attacking mode. Paulinho forced Pletikosa into a great save as Oscar’s beautiful cross missed Hulk by inches. Meanwhile Neymar was showing signs of frustration and could have been sent off, thankfully for the sake of Brazilians, he got away with just a yellow card. Neymar then moved into the centre and in spite of having options on both the flanks, decided to go for it on his own. His long distance shot wasn’t well timed and lacked power, but the placement was good enough for the ball to get into the net. Pletikosa’s slow dive couldn’t stop the ball and the stadium erupted with joy.
The minutes nearing the half time were not as entertaining as both teams seemed like they were just waiting for the half time. Second half saw the Croatians lose direction and focus which allowed Brazil to play their game. Dani Alves’ free kick flew over the bar but the waves of attack didn’t stop. As the hosts were not sure how they would get their second goal, Fred going down to a Lovren tackle and the referee giving a penalty in spite of the Croatians being furious, was just what they needed. Neymar takes the penalty and scores for the second time in the match for the stadium to erupt for the second time. Even the penalty kick was not convincing – but a goal it was on the books.
There were a couple of other decisions that went against Croatia and they were rightly upset about it. Brazilian defense looked fragile and struggled against a lack lustre Croatian attack. While Croatia was in an all attacking mode, Oscar broke loose and in a manner only he can ran through the Croatian defense and scored Brazil’s third goal of the game. Apart from Oscar, the others in the team need to pull up their socks if they want to go all the way. There are a lot of questions that Scolari needs to answer about the defense or the lack of it! Pressure showed on each and every individual and Scolari must do something to knock off the nerves before the next game. The other thing that fans across the world would want to see is better refereeing. All in all a great game to kick off the World Cup and augurs well for the rest of the tournament.
Final score 3-1
Sportzcosmos’ man of the match: OscarJ.