FIFA World Cup 2014 host country Brazil is off to a good start, securing a win in its first game against Croatia. All the smoke and the glitter have yet to settle down after the colorful and grand opening ceremonies of FIFA World Cup 2014 and team Brazil was showing off its prowess early. Nerves were still raw for both teams, and who can blame them. After all, this is the World Cup, the penultimate championship that would hail the victor as the best football team in the world.
The atmosphere during the first game between Brazil and Croatia was anything but friendly. Players were on edge, and they were nervy as soon as they stepped onto the fast-heating up grounds of the Arena de Sao Paulo. In today’s high-pressure game, no one could see a trace of the beautiful game which was prevalent in 1970 or even in 1982. Gone was the “Joga Bonito.” Today, players thrive on pressure, overcoming their nerves and their desire to win by drawing on their experience and training and their inherent skills. And one of the heroes during the World Cup opening match was Neymar, who was Brazil’s face for the 2014 World Cup. He had the chance to shine and he delivered.
Passion for football
Earlier in the week the host country was marred by social unrest, the militants questioning why the country spent so much to host the World Cup when its citizens need the funds more for social services. And yet it cannot be denied that the citizenry still love football and their passion for the game is still high. Fireworks were lit and fans took to the streets to celebrate the 3-1 win of Brazil against Croatia.
But the win was not without controversy. Brazil was behind early in the game, and Croatia made an early lead when Marcelo put the ball into his own goal, after Jelavic ran into Marcelo’s path at the 11th minute. It was not a good sign.
Initially not a good start
Everything was going against Brazil in the opening minutes. Some of the flood lights went off. Neymar was penalized for swinging his arm into Modric’s face. The fear showed in the faces of the Brazilian players. Because at that point, it looked like they would be facing defeat. In Group A, Croatia is the strongest opponent of Brazil, which upped the tension on the ground.
Brazil World Cup poster boy Neymar and the team took responsibility and they pressed forward. His first cross was cleared but Oscar’s attempt at goal was saved by Croatia’s Pletikosa. On the 29th minute, Neymar scored his first of two goals for the night. The crowd was ecstatic.
The controversial goal came on the 71st minute. Dejan Lovren of Croatia was adjudged to have caused Fred to fall. It was just a soft contact but Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura awarded Brazil with a penalty kick. Neymar waited for the Croatian goalkeeper to commit but Pletikosa did not take the bait. When Neymar kicked, Pletikosa’s dive was awkward and the ball passed his left hand. The ball hit the post before it went in. The goal gave Brazil the lead.
Oscar increased Brazil’s lead with a last minute goal.