13/06/2014 : World Cup 2014 Blog : Brazil Get Some Home Help For Opening Win
13 June 2014 : Brazil Get Some Home Help For Opening Win
This was a good game of football, completely marred by a combination of poor refereeing and abhorrent sportsmanship. A 3-1 win for the hosts Brazil was much thanks to the youthful Neymar impressing the expectant crowd at the newly-built Sao Paolo stadium, the dishonest antics of Fred, and the very much conspicuous refereeing of Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura. It seems impossible to even try and focus on any part of the game other than a display of refereeing that provokes genuine suspicion from many fans, and no doubt the Croatians.

Brazil and culture often go hand-in-hand, so it was no surprise to see a very unusual (at least from a British perspective) ceremony take place that involved a piece of dancing broccoli, various flamboyant dancers, and a man called Pitbull who apparently is popular in musical circles. Once the ceremony has ceased it was time for some football. Even from the images shown from the tunnel, the Brazilians looked quite tense, as if weighed down by expectation, whilst the Croats seemed to be embracing their own role as heavy underdogs, with one or two even sharing a joke in the tunnel as they waited to be ordered out onto the field. One does not usually refer to the national anthems in a match report as it is frankly irrelevant and their significance in terms of showing passion is exaggerated by conservatives desperately wanting to climb on some sort of moral high-horse whenever possible, however, Brazilís players appeared to really bellow out their national anthem as if their life depended on it.

One would think that a match of such significance would start rather slowly and perhaps take a while to get going, but neither Brazil nor Croatia had any intention of sitting back. Play was rarely bogged down in the midfield and with players like Modric, Neymar, Hulk, and Rakitic a very open, attacking game was surely inevitable. As Croatia held firm in defence, they asked Brazil some questions on the counter-attack. Croatia created the first clear cut chance as a cross was put in from the right flank and Ivica Olic nodded just wide of Julio Cesarís right post. Brazilís defence was looking shaky and wasnít exactly getting help from the Brazilian attackers who were rather neglecting their defensive responsibilities. Olic was involved again in a Croatian attacking move as the visitors caught their hosts on the counter again with the frequently roaming Daniel Alves desperately trying to chase back. Olic sent in a low ball into towards the six yard box which confused David Luiz and Thiago Silva who were clearly not expecting such a precise low cross. Hull striker Jelavic scuffed an attempted tap in but the loose the ball hit Real Madrid full-back Marcelo and went in.

The first goal of the World Cup; an honour held by the likes of Phillip Lahm, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Papa Bouba Diop and now, rather unfortunately for him, Marcelo. As well as the first goal of the World Cup, Marceloís piece of misfortune was the first own-goal Brazil had ever conceded in the World Cup. Croatia didnít sit back by any means after scoring although their midfield was often back helping out with dealing with the free-flowing Brazillian attacks.

The first controversial moment of the game came when Neymarís forearm struck the face of Luka Modric in the eye-line of the referee. Was the poster boy (donít approve of that phrase but thatís what he is) going to get a straight red card in the opening game of the tournament? Of course not, the referee wouldnít dare give such a big decision against the illustrious hosts. In fairness to the referee, it was not necessarily a clear-cut red card as one could say that Neymarís forearm wasnít intended to hit Modric in the face.

Minutes later, the Croat midfield lost concentration briefly putting Neymar in space; the crowd urged him to shoot sensing that this was their opportunity to really kick off their World Cup campaign. Neymar scuffed the shot but it rolled agonisingly under Stipe Pletikosa and into the goal. That scrappy goal really lifted the home crowd who were no doubt worried when Marcelo put through his own goal within the opening fifteen minutes of the match. Although Brazil had the momentum, the score was still level at half-time.

During the break, many were perhaps pleasantly surprised at how much of a good game this match had been. One had expected this game to be quite tight and cagey with both teams very wary of committing errors, however, it had been very open and entertaining. Unfortunately, by the end of the second half many were wondering whether the outcome of this match had been decided by the meeting of these two teams or a meeting between certain officials and the match referee. Croatia kept very much in the game and the match was still in the balance when Brazilian striker Fred threw himself on the ground despite no significant contact on him.

A disgusting dive was met with a disgusting decision as Nishimura, who was in the perfect position, gave a penalty to the horror of the protesting Croatians. Neymarís penalty was palmed into the net by Pletikosa who would have been disappointed not to save it. Croatia continued to push forward, forcing several awkward saves from Julio Cesar, however, on the breakaway Brazil came forward and Oscar toe-poked the ball past the unfortunate Pletikosa to seal a very much tainted victory for the hosts. As the final whistle blew, one can only imagine how dejected the Croats felt after many of them played the games of their lives, only to have their hard-work undone by both unsporting behaviour and extremely suspicious officiating.

I think the recently-appointed Croatian manager, managing only his third competitive match as Croatiaís manager, summed up the match quite appropriately in his post-match remarks when he said that his team might as well "give up and go home". Even if Mexico and Cameroon play at their very best against Brazil, the trend set by this referee would suggest that they will be playing twelve men rather than eleven so there is really little point in even playing the hosts. On the other hand, despite this defeat Croatia look good enough to get through to the next round as runners up. Whether they do or not is another matter and their final game against Mexico may well be pivotal in deciding who gets the second spot. Although they are likely to continue to have the officials on their side as the tournament goes on, the Brazilians need to improve defence-wise otherwise even the referee might not be able to save them.


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Comments On This Article
Palm Beach Glover said ...

I don't think Brazil were amazing at all, the Croats pressed them at every turn, they don't look like tournament winners yet. There were the odd flashes of brilliance between endless diving, rolling and blatant cheating. The ref of course was a complete prat; it's my opinion that Brazil are an anomaly in that their skillful players are in fact a disgrace to the game; in particular to footballers past who played it in the right way and in the right spirit. I won't be rushing to watch games if this is what I have to watch.
13/06/2014 16:19:09

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Other Entries In The World Cup 2014 Blog Section.
Date Title Author Link
14/06/2014 Costa Rica Cause Rethink On England's Group Henry Hudson Link
14/06/2014 Colombia Triple Gives Greek Tragedy Henry Hudson Link
14/06/2014 Dutch Delight, Spain Pain Henry Hudson Link
13/06/2014 Mexico Make Persistence Pay Off Henry Hudson Link
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