The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil kicks off in Sao Paulo and the best bet in the opening game is Brazil to beat suspension-hit Croatia without conceding a goal.
It has been more than 10 years since Brazil lost a match of any status at home and Croatia will line up in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil curtain raiser without two key players – defender Josip Simunic and striker Mario Mandzukic – after disciplinary issues marred its qualification campaign. So one can put a line through Croatia – Simunic played in nine of his side’s 12 qualifying games for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and Mandzukic was his team’s top marksman with four goals – because the Croatians are likely to approach the match with a view to limiting the damage to its goal difference, something that may determine which one of Group A’s other three sides qualifies for the knockout stage. And also worth nothing is the fact that never has a FIFA World Cup host nation lost when playing in the tournament opener.
With Croatia having laboured to a 1-0 win over the weakest 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier, Australia, in Salvador last week, one is confident that Brazil will kick off with three points. Brazil is available at odds of 1.33 with several bookmakers, including 888sport, Coral and Totesport, to defeat Croatia but one thinks one can do better than that.
Mandzukic’s one-game ban means that Croatia is shorn of its sharpest striker and, without him in preparation for its first 2014 FIFA World Cup examination, the Croatians were lightweight up front against Australia and that is not a good sign. Furthermore, Croatia manager Niko Kovac must be thinking that a small loss to Brazil would not be the end of the world in terms of the bigger picture of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16. And Croatia did not let in all that many goals en route to the tournament.
Backing Brazil to beat Croatia to nil at odds of 1.95 with Betfred appeals as the pick of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil opening match markets. Trends followers will be interested to know that 10 of the last 12 FIFA World Cup curtain raisers have gone under two and a half goals but that is an option that one does not mind swerving. The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil opener resulted in a 3-0 win for the home team over Japan and there is probably not a great deal to choose between Croatia and the Samurai Blue. Even though one thinks that Croatia will adopt a cautious approach – it played in such a way away to Iceland in the first leg of the UEFA play-offs – one is not ruling out the possibility of Brazil winning by a wide margin, thereby making backing under two and a half goals unattractive.
For the record, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil curtain raiser between Brazil and Croatia will be the third time that the sides have met. Croatia and Brazil drew 1-1 in a Split friendly in 2005 before their paths crossed during the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany when the Selecao won 1-0 thanks to a Kaka goal one minute before the half-time interval.
Brazil to beat Croatia to nil
12th June 21:00 GMT
Where to Bet: Betfred