Brazil 3-1 Croatia

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World Cup 2014: group stage, day 1
“The World Cup opener was an exciting game, with Croatia taking an early lead and playing well throughout – Brazil were flattered by the two goal-victory. Crossing. The key feature of the match, and a rather surprising one, was the frequency of crossing. That wasn’t something we expected – Brazil usually field inverted wingers cutting inside to shoot, whereas Croatia hold the ball for long positions in central midfield. But in the first half, both sides crossed the ball regularly. One obvious cause was the format of Brazil’s attackers. Oscar is usually central, with Neymar left and Hulk right. But Scolari changed this completely, with Oscar wide-right, Hulk wide-left and Neymar playing as a support striker, effectively an inside-left. This was probably because Scolari knew Croatia lack a recognised holding midfielder, using two silky passers in that zone instead – so he knew Neymar would get plenty of space between the lines.” Zonal Marking

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Brazil 3-1 Croatia
“The curtain raiser to the grandest tournament of the year took place on the 12th of June at Sao Paulo, with the hosts and hot favourites Brazil taking on Croatia. With all the feverish build up to this game, many were expecting a Brazil romp, but things didn’t really go as planned, as Croatia coach Niko Kovac set his team up to make things very difficult for the Brazilians. Thankfully, the game didn’t suffer as a spectacle, with both teams fighting hard and playing with a great intensity to ensure a positive start to the tournament.” Outside of the Boot

Croatia seething after bitter defeat
“Hysteria — there’s no better word to describe how the morning after the night before looks in Croatia. The Vatreni lost 3-1 to Brazil in the World Cup opener despite putting on a decent performance and, for the vast majority of those who cared to express their opinion, there is no doubt whatsoever who was to blame for the defeat. Referee Yuichi Nishimura is the name’s on everyone’s lips — barely anyone opted for a rational analysis of how Croatia played, instead focusing on the Japanese’s officiating of the match. The Croatia press was incandescent with rage as each media outlet dissected the evening.” ESPN

Neymar makes his mark but like Brazil fails to convince against Croatia
“He was the first Brazilian to score (at the right end) at the World Cup, the first Brazilian to be booked in the World Cup and he also scored a decisive penalty. He trotted round in a corona of attention, always demanding the ball, taking every corner and free-kick, the demands of his country that he should win them the World Cup apparently loud in his ears. Yet this wasn’t a convincing performance, either from Neymar or Brazil.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Relief for Brazil after flawed victory
“Brazil’s World Cup is one of the most ineptly organized major sporting events in history. It might yet prove to be the worst. Its inconveniences have been overshadowed only by its tragedies. Construction workers have died. Stadiums and infrastructure are incomplete. The field in Manaus, a first-order criminal folly, looks like something a beer league wouldn’t play on. The airports and streets are overwhelmed. (If you have a friend in Brazil and you want to know what he’s up to right now, he’s waiting in some kind of line.) Officials have warned visitors not to be out after midnight, that roving bands of muggers have been invading restaurants, that street violence is as inevitable as the sunshine. Long before the start of Thursday’s kickoff between Brazil and Croatia, the concessions at Arena de Sao Paulo had run out of food, the wireless had gone down and the too-few elevators weren’t working properly. Eighteen minutes after the first whistle, a large bank of lights went out.” ESPN

Soccer Morning – June 13th 1:31:13 (Video)

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