Saturday - Sep 23, 2017

Brazil get the 2014 FIFA World Cup underway with a win- although the expected carnival atmosphere still seems very far away

Brazil get the 2014 FIFA World Cup underway with a win- although the expected carnival atmosphere still seems very far away

The city of São Paulo in Brazil did their best to shake off the dark mood surrounding the buildup to the eagerly awaited 2014 FIFA World Cup final tournament.

The tournament got underway with a spectacularly staged a celebration of Brazil and its character, its people and their love of football on the Arena de Sao Paulo pitch.

The extravaganza with a cast of more than 600, some of them dressed as trees, flowers as well as a variety of musical instruments put in a perfectly synchronized performance before singers Claudia Leitte, Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull, popped out of a very large football, the centerpiece of the production, and give a stirring recitation of the official World Cup song, to get the real proceedings on the pitch underway.

Yet when the Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura, blew the whistle to get the match underway, the Croatian team, and only marshalled from midfield by Luka Modric and Ivica Olic showed that they had come over to Brazil to make up the numbers, while working and chasing for every ball and even made a few chances.

One of these chances turned into a goal in the 11th minute, crafted by Olic, whose tantalizing cross was mis hit by Nikica Jelavic but enough to rebound onto Brazilian defender Marcelo, you can only look on in disbelief and horror, as the ball deflected off his ankle and leaving his goalkeeper Julio Cesar wrong footed as the ball rolled into the net.

Brazil came pushing back brilliantly led by Neymar and Oscar, who created several chances for themselves as well as for the unlikely named twin strikers Hulk and Fred displayed none of the nimble footedness that Brazilian strikers have typically displayed in the past.

Eventually, it was the exquisitely talented Neymar who rose to the challenge in the 29th minute, picking up a loose ball, taking a few steps forward and sending a beautifully placed shot into the net off post with the Croatian goalkeeper Pletikosa wishing he was just three inches taller.

In the second half, Croatia seem to have regained their composure, and were looking good to steal a point, until 19 minutes from the final whistle, defender Dejan Lovren was judged to have fouled Fred in the box.

Nishimura did not hesitate to point to the county spot, despite claims from Croatia and subsequent television replays clearly showing little contact had been made. Neymar made a professional and crowd pleasing job of converting the penalty kick, although once again the ball deflected off the out-stretched fingertips of goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, to his great chagrin. As the ball flew into the net, celebrations throughout the stadium were intense starting from the players working its way through the Brazil bench and the crowd, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who looked as much relieved than happy.

Any thoughts of what might have been for the Croatians were dispelled with one minute remaining when the brilliant Oscar cemented the result with a wonderful individual goal to give Brazil a deserved 3-1 victory, marking a 10th consecutive win for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side.

The FIFA 2014 World Cup is due to last for around one month, with 32 national teams vying for the trophy.

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