World Cup 2014: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in confident mood ahead of tournament opener

The hosts take on Croatia this evening

Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has claimed this is Brazil's World Cup ahead of the opening match against Croatia.

LIVE: Follow the latest events from Brazil v Croatia and the Opening Ceremony

After years of preparation, the 20th edition of the tournament kicks off in Sao Paulo tonight at the new Arena Corinthians.

This is the second time Brazil have hosted the World Cup and they will be praying it is more successful than in 1950, when the Selecao fell at the final hurdle against Uruguay at the Maracana.

That remains the only time a clear favourite playing in front of a home crowd has lost the final, and it is a fate Scolari is confident will not be repeated this year.

"To all Brazilians, I want to tell you the time has arrived," the last man to lead the country to World Cup glory said. "This is our World Cup.

"There are seven steps. We have to go up those seven steps but to start we have to think of the first step. We can't jump the seven steps.

"The first step is against Croatia. After that we have six steps that we want to go up if we want to win the World Cup."

Much of Brazil's hope and expectation is being shouldered by 22-year-old Barcelona forward Neymar.

Player of the tournament at last year's Confederation Cup, he cannot wait to get their tilt at a sixth crown started.

"We hope that this last day goes by very quickly," Neymar said.

"I am anxious of course but also I'm extremely happy being where I am today because many people would like to be here.

"I really hope I can help my team in the best possible way to fulfil the dream of the players, and Brazilians, which is to win the World Cup."

As if Croatia's task was not difficult enough, they will be without key man Mario Mandzukic through suspension and had to replace the injured Ivan Mocinic with Milan Badelj on the eve of the game.

Some bookmakers price them as far out as 12/1 to win the match, yet manager Niko Kovac is confident his side will not be rolled over.

"Let's be realistic, Brazil are the hosts and a great favourite," Kovac said. "We come to play the best we can, leave the right impression and show heart on the field.

"The players are eager for this match, the training is going strong and sharp. They are all professionals and they want to play and impose themselves.

"I am optimistic we're not going to Sao Paulo to raise the white flag."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea