World Cup 2014: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in confident mood ahead of tournament opener - International - Football - The Independent

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."

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week