Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the opening game of the World Cup tournament yesterday. So far so good, nothing extra surprising there, but a lot about this game appeared questionable.
The world now can simply be described as non-stop football fiesta, which started yesterday and will continue until 13 July when the final game will be played.
In the first game of the World Cup Brazil was the expected winner, however there were serious suspicions that there might have been some pre-arrangement made. Potential match fixing was exactly what FIFA didn’t need for the opening game, as the association is already followed closely for various cases of possible bribing.
The surprising start
The game started in the most unexpected way – Brazil scored in its own net in the 11’ through Marcelo, who tried to clear a ball, which Olic was controlling, but ended up making a serious mistake. This was a great shock as Brazil had never scored own goal in its World Cup history so far.
Apparently there is a first time for everything, so whoever bet on sports in Brazil and predicted that Brazil will score an own goal, definitely made bank last night.
Naturally, the team was shocked and so was the huge crowd at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, and the tension at the stadium was more than obvious as the game didn’t go according to everyone’s plans and expectations.
Brazilians of course managed to put their game together and star player Neymar scored the first goal for the host at 28’, after a shot that ricocheted off the post and then went in the net of Croatian goalkeeper Pletikosa.
Jokingly some specialists said commented this was the first moment during this game, when match-fixing seems to be the only explanation about the course of events. Petikosa was accused of not reacting on time and being too slow without a reason.
The notorious moment
This is how the second controversial part of the game started without much challenge in the first part, but with potential to perform better for Brazil with Oscar dictating the game in the middle.
It all started with a completely theatrical dive in the box performed by Brazilian striker Fred, who threw himself backwards with his hands in the air, when Croatian defender Lovren barely touched him. This act was not noticed by anyone but the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who immediately awarded penalty.
Brazil – Croatia could have been fixed
• Brazil won against Croatia 3-1 in the World Cup’s opening game
• Japanese referee Nishimura rewarded Brazil with controversial penalty
• Croatian goalkeeper Pletikosa seemed out of the game
This penalty decision of the referee could have easily been a match-fixing move, which immediately made it into the gambling news and had a wide coverage around the world, despite the fact that nothing is proven yet.
Neymar scored the penalty in 71’, which was his second goal in this game and his total grew to 33 goals for Brazil in 50 games.
All of the replays of the moment before the penalty showed that there was almost no touch and definitely no actual reason for penalty, but the referee gave one without any hesitation.
Naturally, Croatian media exploded today with accusations of match-fixing against the referee Nishimura, who according to them “invented” goal for the host team, awarding a non-existent penalty. Some of the headlines included: “’Injustice!’, ‘Shame!’ and ‘Referee shamelessly broke the Fiery Ones (Vatreni – the team’s nickname)!’”
The referee in everyone’s mouth
Croatian coach Niko Kovac also expressed his disappointment in front of national TV: “If that was a penalty then we should not play football anymore!”
It is interesting that Nishimura was even awarded with the honor to of being Asian referee of the year in 2012, but is seems that even his own countrymen don’t approve his decision from last night. The social media in Japan exploded with critics, countless angry opinions were re-tweeted and some even went further saying: “Oh dear, if Brazil win the World Cup the whole world will say Nishimura was the MVP (most valuable player).”
Furthermore, referee Nishimura was criticized not only for the controversial penalty but also for preventing Croatia for scoring once and also not giving Brazilian star Neymar a red card for playing roughly with his elbows against Modric.
Keeping in mind that the Japanese referee already has 10 years of international experience, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, his actions were claimed as highly unprofessional and despite the fact that he was referee of the year twice in the J-League, he is very notoriously known by Japanese fans, for giving questionable penalties
The end of the game
After the penalty it all went down for Croatia as Oscar performed an amazing run, past the defenders and scored for 3-1, ending in the best possible way a game, which was extremely successful for himself. This was another situation when the Croatian goalie didn’t show any reflex and just let the ball in the net, under the astonished eyes of his teammates.
Despite the fact that Croatia was trying to put more pressure, they didn’t manage to score another goal, and Oscar’s extra one might be of great importance, if it comes to goal differential at the end of the group stage.
The group games continue today and for sure it won’t be easy for anyone, but after the last night’s game there are even more questions regarding the actual shape of the Brazilian team and how far does it deserve to reach in this year’s World Cup tournament.