World Cup 2014 Video: Campaign kicks off with Brazil v Croatia
VIDEO: The Independent's Ian Herbert previews the opening game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with the host's taking on Croatia in Group A
Thursday 12 June 2014
The twentieth Fifa World Cup begins on Thursday, as Brazil - the host and tournament favourite - take on Croatia as they hope to clinch their sixth title.
It is the second time that Brazil have hosted the World Cup. The last time was in 1950, when the Brazilians lost in the final at the Maracana against Uruguay.
Brazil will hope they bury the ghosts of 1950 and much attention is geared towards the young striker Neymar, who has said that he hopes to emulate the likes of Romario and Ronaldo at this year's World Cup.
At a press conference yesterday, Neymar said: "The time has arrived for all Brazilians. I am anxious but I am extremely happy also. I hope that I can fulfill the dreams of the Brazilians by winning the World Cup."
Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari - who won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil during his first stint in charge - has said Brazil has to go up "seven steps" to win the title once more, "but to start, we have to think of the first step. We can't just jump the seven steps...The first step is against Croatia".
The Croatia team had a difficult route to qualification for the 2014 Finals. They came second in their group, losing twice to Scotland, with their coach Igor Stimac resigning. They beat Iceland in a play-off game to reach the Brazil tournament.
In their first World Cup appearance in 1998, Croatia finished in third pace. However, they did not make it to the last campaign in South Africa four years ago.
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