BRAZIL walk into today’s game with two wins out of two during warm up games against Panama and Serbia.
Although the Serbian opposition appeared a tough test, with the hosts only capable of a 1-0 victory, a 4-0 triumph over Panama highlighted Brazil’s attacking strength for the summer.
With the likes of Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho left out, coach Scolari believes the new, younger players such as Oscar and Neymar will slide effectively into the set up and carry on the success from 2013.
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STAR MAN: NEYMAR
NEYMAR Started his career with Santos in 2008, where he developed his flair for dribbling, one-touch passes and exquisite control.
He averaged two trophies per year with the club in 2010, 2011 and 2012, winning the FIFA Puskás Award for the year’s finest goal in 2011
After a move to FC Barcelona, he has scored 14 goals in 39 matches. He was part of the Brazil side that won Silver at the 2012 Olympics and he picked up the Golden Ball award during 2013’s Confederation Cup.
Still only 22 years old, Brazilian legends such as Ronaldo have highlighted his ability to handle enormous pressure under high expectations.
CROATIA have also managed to secure two victories in their warm up games, 2- 1 over Mali and 1-0 against Australia.
The team qualified for the tournament after defeating Iceland, although striker Mario Mandzukic picked up a red card which means he will not be involved in Niko Kovac’s starting eleven.
Without their main man, the team are likely to adopt a more defensive approach against Brazil, a side known for its attacking potency.
The Croatians have a point to prove after failing to qualify for South Africa in 2010.
STAR MAN: LUKA MODRIC
The 28-year-old Real Madrid star joined the Spanish side from Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £33m and is renowned for his creativity and tempo.
Modric will be likely to guide the midfield from a defensive stance, as the target man to progress the play from the back through to the attacking third.
The side will rely on his ability to create opportunities to steal a point (or three) off the Brazilians.
HEAD TO HEAD: DANI ALVES v IVICA OLIC
A formidable match for today’s opener will be between Croatian winger/forward Ivica Olic and Brazilian defender Dani Alves.
Olic, aged 34, is an experienced member of the Croatian side and a role model for the younger players.
He curently plays for German side Wolfsburg and his work rate means he is capable of posing a threat in the Croatian midfield, yet is also likely to move forward to support Jelavic.
Olic will be aiming to beat solid Barcelona defender Alves.
The right back played for club team Sevilla for six years, before joining Barcelona in 2008. He has precise passing skills, as well as being strong defensively.
As another experienced player, Alves is likely to provide a tough test for attackers during the World Cup.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brazil is the only team to have played at every World Cup, winning it a total of five times.