So here it was. The opener. The first match of the FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil. In a highly tense and anxious affair, it was the hosts who won the game with a comfortable 3-1 win. Luckily for the fans, the game wasn’t as drab and boring as the Opening Ceremony and they actually got to watch some talent perform with the likes of Rakitic, David Luiz, etc. and not Pitbull and his complete excuse for a World Cup song. Croatia took the lead through Marcelo’s own goal, credit to Ivica Olic, who had a great first half, for the inch perfect ball. Croatia had had the better start to the game and looked more clinical as they attacked. But, soon the hosts showed us why they are favourites, running riots on the pitch with their very own Avenger, Hulk and their golden boy Neymar. The script was written for Neymar and just after picking up a cautionary yellow card, the Brazilian showed us what he can do as he equalized just before the half an hour mark with a superb low effort from some 25 yards out.The game kept drifting away from Croatia who seemed slightly fazed by the goal they had conceded. They did have a few decent chances before the break, but the match was level at half-time with really nothing to choose from the two sides and it seemed the Croatian coach Niko Kovac’s tactics were working perfectly…
Then came the second half and then came the controversial moment that every game has to have. The referee awarded a penalty to Brazil for a very soft foul on Fred by Southampton centre back, Dejan Lovren. Brazil had a chance to go ahead and with Neymar standing over the ball, it seemed inevitable. The crowd was watching, and in a heartwarming and heart wrenching moment we saw Brazilian legend and former FIFA World Player of The Year, Kaka filming the moment, although we feel that he should’ve been playing. In spite of the unorthodox run-up, Neymar converted and thanked the heavens and that Fred had learnt some of his simulation tactics. A mention here to Croat shot stopper Stipe Pletikosa who nearly saved the penalty. It seemed to be going according to plan for Brazil now. Brazil were destined to win this game, they had to continue the tradition of hosts never losing the first match. As expected, Croatia attacked and tried their level best to equalize only leaving themselves exposed for Oscar to punish them clinically with a goal and to wrap it up for Brazil in style. Brazil exuded class in the game they had that “little” bit extra in their team which took them all the way. The major talking points from this game were Neymar’s theatrics (he did go down too easily on a number of occasions), Brazil’s shaky defense after Croatia tested them a number of times and did have a goal disallowed which was questionable. Brazil’s exceptional attack spearheaded by Oscar and Neymar did not disappoint, and Croatia’s midfield powerhouses Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who did seem to have their moments were nullified by Wolfsburg’s Luis Gustavo and Tottenham Hotspur’s Paulinho. All in all, it was a fun and thrilling 90 minutes of football and a very apt opening match. Hopefully, this level of football continues throughout the tournament and the level of decision making of the officials improves. Brazil won the game, Croatia won our hearts. Brazil, are currently top of Group A with 3 points and a goal difference of +2.
Our Man of The Match- Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnio #11 This baby-faced footballer may have just been the spark that Brazil needed to win this tough match up. And he did not disappoint. He gave Brazil the much needed energy, the industrious working in midfield, the good passes and capped up a mighty performance with a well taken goal to bury the game. While Neymar may be FIFA’s Man Of The Match, we have to give it to Oscar.
Our Flop of The Match- Júlio César Soares de Espíndola #1 An absolute disappointment, while he cannot be held guilty for Marcelo’s own goal, he could’ve cost Brazil the game. Rather than catching shots, he just parried every single shot, sometimes right into the strikers’ paths. Thankfully, he avoided what could have been a horrible game because of the hard-tackling Luiz and Leader of Men, Thiago Silva.
FIFA’s Man Of The Match- Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior #10 The poster boy for Brazilian football at the moment, lived up to all the hype. There aren’t too many twenty-two year olds who score a brace on their World Cup debut, but Neymar is one of them. He had a brilliant game, bagging a brace while also being booked for what was a very blatant foul. All in all, his game matched expectations but wasn’t as much of a threat as Oscar while going forward. We hope you liked reading our review on the game. This is the first of many to come.