Group A: Brazil vs. Croatia
- June 12, 4 p.m. ET
- CBC TV, streaming online at cbc.ca/fifaworldcup
What’s at stake
Brazil will come out firing in this tournament-opening match to show the world they can win the big prize on their home turf, having failed to do so in 1950.
Croatia wants to reverse its four-game World Cup losing streak, dating back to 2002.
This is the third-ever match between these countries. They tied 1-1 in a 2005 friendly, and Brazil won 1-0 in a group stage match in Germany 2006.
Brazil: Neymar. Only 22, this Brazilian prodigy has incredible pace and scoring touch. He wears No. 10 with pride. But Pele’s number also puts huge pressure on young shoulders.
Croatia: Luka Modric. A key playmaker in Real Madrid’s extra-time win in the Champions League final, Modric is crucial in leading his team mates against a strong Brazilian side.
What to watch for
Five-time winners Brazil has a deadly duo in the names of Neymar and Fred. They scored nine goals between them in the Confederations Cup last year.
Croatian manager Niko Kovac plans to play a "4-2-3-1-come-4-1-4-1" formation to maximize the impact of Modric and fellow playmaker Ivan Rakitic.
They said it:
- “Kovac has set the bar in line with his German-bred mentality that order, hard work and discipline are essential ingredients for good results.” — Croatian winger Ivan Perisic, about his German-born manager Nico Kovac.
- "Today was reasonably better but I am still demanding more.” — Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil’s manager, following Brazil’s 4-0 win over Panama in a recent warm-up match.
The Big Number
8 — Brazil has kicked off their last eight World Cup campaigns (from 1982 to 2010) with a win.
Obligatory Fun Fact
Modric celebrated winning the Champions League final by cutting off his long locks.