Date
14 December 2017
FC Barcelona star Neymar will have a lot riding on his shoulders as Brazil seeks a record sixth World Cup championship. Photo: fifa.com
FC Barcelona star Neymar will have a lot riding on his shoulders as Brazil seeks a record sixth World Cup championship. Photo: fifa.com

Brazil plays Croatia in World Cup opener

Brazil will play Croatia in the opener of the 2014 World Cup Friday (Hong Kong time).

Morale in the Brazilian team is high in the run-up to the kick-off as efforts to drum up support for the Samba boys continue after months of distraction caused by protests, delays and spiraling costs.

Brazil has won all its eight inaugural matches in a World Cup tournament since it drew with Sweden in 1978.

But pressure will be on this team which will play without Ronaldinho and Kaka, two of its biggest stars, who failed to make the grade. 

Barcelona star Neymar, 22, is expected to lead Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad. He has scored 31 times in his 48 caps for Brazil. 

“I’ve worked with a lot of quality coaches. I appreciate everything that Scolari has given me,” Neymar said Wednesday.

“If the fans are with us, it will be difficult to beat this Brazilian team,” he said.

Neymar has caused quite a fright for Brazil’s soccer fans after twisting his ankle in training a few days ago.

Although it was not a serious matter, it’s potential impact on his performance is unclear.

Meanwhile, Croatia coach Niko Kovac is trying to spring a surprise on the overwhelming favorites.

“We will try and surprise the hosts and will not give up until the end,” he said.

“In the right circumstances, Croatia can make history.”

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