Can Croatia beat the odds and deny Brazil three easy points in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup?
The 2014 World Cup will open with the hosts Brazil taking on Croatia on June 12th. Everything is set for the tournament, despite various news agencies reporting that the country is not ready to host the event fully. While players themselves and their fans are super-excited to finally witness the event they’ve been missing for four years, punters are anxious for the betting under Brazilian gambling laws to commence.
There are many ways to wager on the World Cup at land-based and online sportsbooks in Brazil. Lots of markets and choices to be made. While the outright winner odds and the lines on the Golden Boot winner are popular, most of the action will anyhow fall on the individual games themselves.
Betting on the opening match
Predictions and odds for Brazil v Croatia opener
• Teams and fans are preparing to cheer their teams in the opener
• Punters are getting ready to take bet at online sportsbooks in Brazil
• Underdogs Croatia will be looking to take any chance to surprise the hosts
Sure Brazil are the hot favorites to win the World Cup with 4.00 odds from Bet365, and of course they are also favored to beat Croatia in the opener. But just paint yourself a picture where you can silence 65,000 anxious fans in a single moment.
This is how Croatians might feel, should they score first in the opening match of the World Cup. The first game is scheduled to kick off in Sao Paolo at the Arena Corinthians. Brazil are the natural favorites to grab all three points there with 1.30 odds for those who bet on sports in Brazil. Croatia are outsiders with 11.00 odds and the draw will bring a line of 5.00. Some hefty payouts should things not go right for Luiz Felipe Scolari men.
What can prevent Brazil from winning the opener
While the favorable odds are totally understandable, there are a couple of factors which can stop the Selecao from winning the first match. First and foremost is the incredible amount of pressure put on their shoulders. The hosts are expected to make up for not winning the 1950 home World Cup, and no one at home will forgive if they don’t lift the trophy.
Secondly, Croatians are not an easy team to step on. Their main strength lies in the midfield. One of the most underrated players in this position, Luka Modric, comes from Real Madrid, a team which has just won the Champions League for a record 10th time.
Modric and Ivan Rakitic will be forming an impeccable midfield duo, and will certainly be looking to break the Brazilian attack before it comes to the penalty area. Besides that, the Croatian midfield will be the main force in preventing the Selecao from dominating possession, not to mention setting up their own team’s attack.
Sadly, Croatia will not be able to rely on their main striker Mario Mandzukic. Bayern Munich player is disqualified due to a red card he got against Iceland during qualifying. Because of the fact that Mandzukic will not be able to help Croatia against Brazil, their game will modify significantly, which might be another factor lowering Brazil’s chances.
Croatians are expected to rely more on their defense on Thursday, putting their goalscoring chances on counterattacks. And since Brazil will be pressured to score, they will certainly leave some room for the Croats to find counterattack opportunities.
The main players
Croatian defense will have a lot of trouble stopping the likes of Hulk, Fred, and of course Neymar from reaching their goal and striking. The Selecao also boast a pretty solid midfield, which will undoubtedly supply the attacking trio with lots of useful passes.
Stipe Pletikosa, the man in the Croatian goal may be a veteran at 35 years of age, but he will certainly bring the much needed experience to the team. In the upcoming match the goalkeeper will be helped by the midfielders, which are expected to be dropping back more often than ever.
Can the underdogs surprise?
Croatia are certainly the underdogs in the Thursday’s match, and they know it very well. However, the players have over 1,000 matches for their national team between them, and this amount of experience will certainly prevent Croatia from falling apart under Brazilian pressure.
The Croatians will notoriously defend the access to their penalty area and take all counterattacking chances they can get. They will be under pressure not only from Brazilian players, but from a super-loud home crowd at Arena Corinthians.