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On Thursday evening The World Cup 2014 was kicked off with a bang. Brazil defeated their group A rivals Croatia 3-1 in an enthralling way.
The start was quite awful for the hosts. Marcelo had an own goal just at the very beginning of the match. But eventually they got themselves leveled before the half time. This was absolutely earned by Neymar’s scuffed effort. Then it was again Neymar, who converted a penalty for the Selecao to take the lead. Finally Oscar capped a magnificent display by poking a late effort into the bottom corner and take it to three.
Formations: Brazil vs Croatia
Brazil just started with the exact same XI that started the 2013 Confederations Cup final. For their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Luiz Gustavo was held off the challenge of Fernandinho midfield. Also another notable thing about Neymar as he started as no. 10.
Croatia also started with their regular formation, with three exceptional playmakers Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic. Dejan Lovren was kept at the first eleven and Sime Vrsalkjo played out of position at left-back.
As it happened: Brazil vs Croatia
Belying Luiz Felipe Scolari’s year-long tradition Hulk started on the left and Oscar on the right. But it was not working well. Suddenly with Croatia bagging an excellent early goal, pressure grew at immeasurable level for the Selecao team.
As Neymar was playing as a No. 10, he was swamped out by the studious Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric. It was an easy job for them to shackle him and stop receiving balls to feet. Consequently this isolated Fred in turn and stumped the attack for the Brazil team.
On the other hand, The Vatreni were flying from the first minute. Olic burst forward inside the first minute and broke a challenge. It was a real threat for the defense. But the third wide attack was a genuine score.
It was Paulinho, who put his teammates in a real hole. Though there were a plethora of errors in the buildup to the Croatia goal. As he knows Ivan Rakitic has a runner (Olic) outside and a man free (Mateo Kovacic) to pass. So, the last thing he should do is dive in and “force” the action from the ball-player. Probably this was an example of how naive defending can kill you on the flanks.
Thiago Silva was also quite slow to come out. As David Luiz allowed his man across him, Marcelo scored an own goal. But the thing started on the Croatia half.
Eventually Brazil snapped out of it. Truly speaking, it wasn’t a systematic change that sparked the recovery. It was totally individual effort and determination that allowed Brazil to get back into the game.
It always happens for two same formation teams meeting together. Midfields are matched man for man. So it becomes tough to find space. An individual needs to beat a challenge to open it up and that began happening soon.
Paulinho first broke into the box and split the centre-backs. Soon enough, Neymar danced around Rakitic and hit the byline for a cross. Then it was the excellent Oscar who did the damage by laying it off to Neymar and letting the 50-cap wonder do the rest for the Selecao.
Oscar looked like the man of the Brazil vs Croatia match. He tried his hardest to make things happen and change the flow.
After going down, Croatia pushed forward and opened the distance between their midfield and defensive lines. They just tried to allow more players to attack.
Scolari also matched the strategy by introducing Hernanes and Bernard.
For the final 15 minutes, with space in the midfield allowing players to travel with the ball and take each other, it was astounding. Especially when it seemed as though Croatia could sneak a late equalizer, Oscar charged down the other end and punted an 18-yard effort into the corner to seal it.