The lead up to the world cup 2014 had been overshadowed by protests from Brazilian workers but the hope was that this would not dampen the festivities. The opening ceremony, to everyoneâ€™s relief, went on without any glitches with musicians Jennifer Lopez, rapper Pitbull and pop star Claudia Leitte entertaining the crowd before the opening match.
The first game of the world cup is always tough for the host nation. The expectation to perform is heavy not only from your country but the rest of the world. It is even tougher when the host nation is Brazil, one of the worldâ€™s biggest names when it comes to the beautiful game. Unfortunately, as with the issues off field, the game will also be overshadowed by a bit of controversy due to some of the calls made by the referee.
Brazil was largely expected to win this game. As the Croatian coach had put it before the game, Croatia was here to entertain. But they would not take this lying down as they demonstrated from the onset. Despite the fact that Brazil is blessed offensively they have some issues when it comes to their defense. This I feel is largely due to their adventurous fullbacks than their central defenders. Unfortunately, their shaky defense is what led to the opener with Marcelo being the first Brazilian player ever to score an own goal in the world cup. Croatia had the lead though it looked like it wouldnâ€™t last long.
Cometh the hour cometh the man. The hopes of a whole nation lay on the shoulders of a 22 year old named Neymar and like with all fairy tales he had to be the one to bring them back in the game. As much as the highlight reels will show Neymarâ€™s goal from 25 yards out, most of the credit goes to man of the match Oscar whoâ€™s resilience led to him recovering the ball and passing on to Neymar. Brazil was back in the game with the half time looming.
The second half started like the first though this time it was Brazil, and not Croatia, on the front foot. A second goal was in the pipelines as the Brazilian players threw everything into attack. The decisive moment arrived when the referee decided to award a penalty for an infringement by a Croatian defender in the box. This was the moment that would change the game but it left the Croatian players and coaching staff red on the face as the decision was a controversial one. In my opinion, it was a soft penalty but going by the rules it was a foul in the box thus there was nothing the ref could do about it.
Up stepped Neymar to take it and he was lucky as the ball went into the back of the net despite the goalkeeper getting some fingertips to it.
The rest of the game was evenly balanced with both teams trying to score goals but it was Brazil who got the goal they needed to settle the game as Oscar toe poked the ball from distance past the Croatian goalkeeper.
At the final whistle, Brazil had won the game 3-1.
Many of Brazilâ€™s fans, while celebrating the victory, will be a bit disappointed that their team didnâ€™t take control of the whole game. Being billed as the favorites to win the trophy there was a lot riding on this showing and there will be teams in the tournament who can take advantage of their shaky defense.
Match day two is upon us and we get to see the first African team play in this yearâ€™s final as Cameroon take on Mexico. The winner of this game will have a great chance of advancing to the knockout round so expect a really tight but exciting game.
The other game is a repeat of the 201 final as Spain take on the Netherlands. This will be the first of the big games in the tournament and the team that wins will have a really big psychological advantage as we proceed to the next round. My money will be on Spain but if the Netherlands put on a great show they might just steal the win from the Spaniards.