So the first day of the World Cup has come and gone and what a way to begin!
After four years of waiting and probably one of the most boring opening ceremonies of all time, the long-anticipated Brazil vs Croatia match kicked off in Sao Paolo.
It didn’t go as expected, as hosts Brazil were behind early when Marcelo turned an Ivica Olic cross into the back of his own net.
But Brazil are favourites for a reason and the Selecao brought the game level with a sweetly struck daisy-cutter by wonderkid Neymar.
The game will however be marred by one incident, when Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura blew the whistle to award a spot kick to Brazil for what must be one of the softest penalties of all time.
Southampton and Croatia defender Dejan Lovren seemed to only touch Fred’s shoulder with his hand, before the Brazilian striker tumbled down like a ragdoll.
Neymar scored the penalty – albeit luckily – as Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa almost managed to parry the Barcelona star’s shot wide.
Croatia bombed forward, only to be denied by another soft call when Olic managed to out-jump Julio Cesar only for Nishimura to cancel out the goal resulting from the striker’s knockdown header. In the end a Brazilian counter attack led by Chelsea’s Oscar – who was brilliant all night – managed to glide past two defenders before toe-poking the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
The result was what was expected, but, probabaly not in the manner we were expecting.
Man of the Match: Oscar (Brazil and Chelsea)
Flop of the Match: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan and FIFA)
Oscar (Chelsea): 9
The Brazilian was a constant thorn down the right wing, supplying cross after inviting cross, only for his team-mates to be unable to hit the ball towards goal. He was also a bundle of energy, tracking back and chasing down when Croatia had possession. Headlines will say Neymar was the star, but Oscar was the man who won Brazil the game.
Ramires (Chelsea): N/A
Came on as a late substitute for Neymar in the closing stages.
Dejan Lovren (Southampton): 6.5
You could not fault the Southampton centre-back, who defended well throughout before the referee gave Brazil a penalty for a foul he definitely did not commit. He was however slow to catch Oscar when the Brazilian poked in his side’s third, but at that point in the match the heat would have taken a toll on the towering defender.
Paulinho (Tottenham): 7
Had a solid game in the centre of the pitch, keeping possession well and had a couple of opportunities to get his name on the scoresheet. Paulinho typified Scolari’s new Brazil, in which he combines defensive solidity with attacking prowess.
Nikica Jelavic (Hull City): 5
Barely had a touch of the ball in the game, but one of his few did lead to Marcelo hitting the ball into his own net. With Mario Mandzukic ready to play in the next fixture after finishing his ban, Jelavic will find it hard to get any first-team action during the tournament.