SAO PAULO, June 11 (Xinhua) -- It was no question for Brazil, host team and the biggest challenger to win World Cup 2014, to open the campaign with a victory in Thursday's opening match, and the underdog Croatia would need some change to avoid a defeat in Sao Paulo.
Brazil was one of the most talented teams in the World Cup, and Luiz Felipe Scolari did a successful job in putting balance and efficiency into the team's blood. The five-time World Cup champion won 15 out of the recent 16 matches, including wins over strong teams such as Italy and Spain. Athough the wins might not be entertaining to the spectators, they are enough to scare Brazil's opponents.
There was no need for Brazil to make any change to the already-excellent squad or formation. Neymar and the other Brazilian attackers would force great pressure on Croatia's defense. Brazilian defenders would also fight hard to cut the connection between the Croatia's forwards and midfielders.
"Brazil has the best players, and they can win the World Cup," said Croatia captain Darijo Srna. "All we have to do is to make the process less easy."
Croatian head coach Niko Kovac said a draw would be acceptable for the team. Croatia had a brand to control the ball and they would continue with that on Thursday.
Brazil was tipped to win the match, but there were still chances for the Croatians. First of all, Brazil had played Panama and Serbia before the World Cup, but they didn't win beautifully. The two warm-up matches might bring fatigue to the host team, and on the other side of the pitch, Croatia was full in strength.
Secondly, Croatia had a choice to change their regular 4-3-3 formation to 4-2-3-1. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic had enough talent to play play-maker, and one more attacker would create more possibilities for Croatia to score the ball.
The two teams had only met once in the previous 19 World Cups. Brazil edged Croatia 1-0 in 2006 in an equal match. Croatia had a tradition to play the "darkhorse", and Modric had the ability to change the match, so it would be no surprise if Croatia win the match before the 60,000 home crowd.