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You can stop making excuses for missing out on those boring family events, desist from trying to predict the score  of 64 games and you can put down that book of trivia inspired by the summer of ’86.

The greatest show on earth is here, so come with us and bask in the glory of the 20th World Cup.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail Sean@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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It’s here, it’s here, it’s here it’s here.

Football fans, the highlight of your last four years is here. And we’ve got a doozy of a game to enjoy for starters:

The two strongest teams in Group A go head-to-head in Sao Paulo: Croatia (who must feel very, very unloved at the minute) and those boys from Brazil.

Brian Moore has already slid in recklessly with his score prediction in the comment section: He reckons Brazil will win 3 -1, which sounds plenty plausible.

Can anybody see Croatia bringing sorrow to Sao Paulo tonight or will it be one way traffic?

We’ve got some opening ceremony news to come (brace yourselves, it’s riveting stuff), but first some PROPER EXCITING STUFF.

Here are the teams for the opener. Croatia have gone for both Olic and Jelavic in attack. Both way more exciting than Fred.

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar, Fred.

Subs: Jefferson, Fernandinho, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Ramires, Hernanes, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Maicon, Victor.

Croatia: Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Kovacic, Olic, Jelavic.

Subs: Zelenika, Pranjic, Vukojevic, Schildenfeld, Brozovic, Rebic, Sammir, Vida, Eduardo, Subasic.

Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)

Don’t be disheartened just yet, Croatia fans.

So, about that opening ceremony.

Thankfully, it’s over now, but it involved Pitbull, some really bad sound and some really, really, really high-waisted trousers.


Yep, no socks and a knock-off Brazil jersey from Aldi is just how pop superstars roll these days.

Thank goodness for J-Lo.

j lo

The teams are on the field! Let’s fist-bump and listen to some national anthems.

Brazil Soccer WCup Brazil Croatia Source: AP/Press Association Images

Wow. The music of the Brazil anthem died down and things got intense as the crowd belted out one last verse.

The nation is ready for the Copa Del Mundo. So Bring it on.


KICK-OFF: Good to go, World Cup.

Croatia move into the attack straight away, but David Luiz is on hand to inflict the first big tackle of the tournament. Great stuff.

3 mins: Looks like we have a pattern. Brazil force Croatia to sit very very deep, but once they misplace a pass, Olic is on hand and scampers up the left wing.

He takes a tackle from Alves as he swings in a dangerous enough cross, but there are not enough chequered shirts to cause much danger.

5 mins: Brazil win a free kick on the left win. Marcelo swings it inm but SIlva is at full stretch at the back post and can only set up Luis for a weak header under pressure from 12 yards.

CLOSE: A glorious cross in from the right by Perisic finds Olic at the back post, the striker heads down, but inches wide of the left hand post.

8 mins: Paulinho’s shot is deflected for a corner, but it’s cleared at the near post and Croatia look to counter swiftly again before Oscar cuts it out.

GOAL! Brazil 0 Croatia 1 (Marcelo OG ‘ 10)

Oof. Brazil didn’t see that coming, but Croatia have set out with a very clear gameplan of counter-attacking to swing in low crosses.

This time the deflected cross is shinned into the net by Marcelo.

15 mins: Brazil have clicked into their gear called ‘pressure’ since that goal and even taken a leaf out of the Croat tactics book, but Fred and Neymar both missed out on the cross that zipped across the face of goal

20 mins: Just a hint of desperation about the Seleção now as they pump balls into the box.

Paulinho raises hope by fashioning a shot from an acute angle, but it’s straight at the keeper.

BRILLIANT SAVE! Pletikosa goes full stretch to deny Oscar’s superb curling left foot shot.

The chance came after some nice skill from Neymar, dancing along the end-line (possibly not quite keeping the ball in) before pulling a cross back.

25 mins: There’s the first yellow card of the world cup. Neymar booked for having his forearm pressed against Modric’s chin while the La Liga rivals waited for a ball to drop.

28 mins: The Free kick comes to nothing, an excellent clearing header from David Luis.


Up the other end…

GOAL! Brazil 1 Croatia 1 ( Neymar ‘ 28 )

Brazil are level thanks to a nice little finish from Neymar.

It wasn’t the cleanest or the most powerful hit, but it was enough to bobble past Pletikosa and in off the post.

34 mins: That goal has calmed Brazil, and the game, down no end. Both sides seem to be temporarily reverting to their initial gameplans.

36 mins: Scratch that, Brazil still have the gears to go through if they need. The raid through the middle and Oscar’s cut-back cross very nearly finds Paulinho on the edge of the box, but it’s clipped away by a defender.

39 mins: Oscar is really growing into this game as the time ticks on. The Chelsea man clipped a lovely little ball into the box for  Fred to run onto.

Danger now as Neymar takes a tumble outside the area…

41 mins: Luiz looks like he wants to smash the ball good, but Neymar attempts the curling shot and curls it into the man who fouled him.

The corner threat is quickly snuffled out too as the visitors outnumber the man coming short to receive the set play.

Brazil still desperately pressing for a second goal as the board foes up for two minutes. They won’t find a breakthrough in this half, though. Croatia will be relieved to see the dressing room.

HALF-TIME: Brazil 1 Croatia 1

Good show.

Right, hope you enjoyed your half-time Bovril, or whatever horrible drink they have in Brazil, because the second half is under way.

51 mins: Right, the second half is in full swing and we have to say; it’s been fairly disappointing stuff.

The tempo is getting sucked out of the game with every peep of the referee’s whistle.

53 mins: Still far too many balls and passes allowed to drift higher than Pitbull’s pants. Makes it very difficult for attackers to do anything more than help the ball onto the centre defenders.

Right, we’re 57 minutes in and both managers must surely be looking for their substitutes, because it’s stalemate out there.

Could Willian or Jo make any difference? How’s that famous Brazilian-Croat Eduardo keeping these days?

59 mins: Croatia to their credit are getting their act together a bit and beginning to put a string of possession together before going back to their favoured tactic of cross balls to the box.

And they’re also first to make a chance. Kovacic takes his leave of this curtain-raiser of two halves to be replaced by Brozovic.

63 mins: Hernanes comes on in place of Paulinho now and his first task is to watch Croatia swing in a free-kick, but it swings right back out again.

65 mins: Here they come.

Brazil turn the ball over in midfield and Neymar has a chance to run at Corluka.

Ooomph, but he’s not running for long. Big Vedran scythes down the number 10 to leave the hosts with a free-kick 30 yards from goal and central.

David Luiz again takes a back seat on the set-piece and Dani Alves fizzes a placed shot a foot over the bar.

About time. Hulk is given the Sherphard’s crook and on comes, eh… Bernard? These Brazilian names are shocking.

PENALTY! Dejan Lovren is penalised for a foul on Fred…. that’s incredibly harsh.

GOAL! Brazil 2 Croatia 1 (Neymar ‘ 71)

Kaka in the stands ends up happy.

But he and his owner, Jesus, must have had their hearts in their mouth for a split second as the ‘keeper got a hand to the penalty, but just… could … not… keep … it… out.

So harsh on Croatia, they’ve probably been the better side in the second half.

75 mins: Oh, it should have been three. Oscar flings in a lovely cross after skipping around the defender, but big David Luiz can’t direct his header anywhere but up.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Group A - Brazil v Croatia - Arena Corinthians Good lad. Source: EMPICS Sport

80 mins: Croatia can rightly feel aggrieved at that outrageous penalty decision, but so far they haven’t been able to channel that frustration into creating a meaningful chance.

Big Phil’s brazil will be only two happy to sit back and pick their punches from here.

82 mins A howler from Julio Cesar as he flaps at the ball when Olic leaps alongside him.

Of course, the keeper gets the soft decision and the whistle blows before Rebic can turn the ball in to claim a disallowed goal.

84 mins: Brazil just looking a bit shaky again. A corner kick deflected off the first defender and flashed all the way in front of goal.

Rebic is looking dangerous and a Luka Modric shot stung the palms of Cesar from distance.

Me aul’ Croat chums deserve at least a point here.

There goes Neymar to a standing ovation, but not before he seeks out the ref for a handshake for the man who gifted him a second goal tonight.

Luis Gustavo is in the game.

89 mins: Croatia continue to press and threaten, a wicked shot almost catches Cesar, but the hosts escape…


… and they go straight down the other end.

GOAL: Brazil 3 Croatia 1 ( Oscar ’91)

Oscar comes up with the ultimate World Cup toe-poke after running at the defender and taking aim from the edge of the box.

Four goals, and after that one bobbled in, not a looker in the bunch.

FULL TIME: Brazil 3 Croatia 1

You’d have to be sickened if you were a Croat right now. Seriously impressive for the vast majority of this game, but they go into their remaining group games with no points and a -2 goal difference.

Brazil however; got the rub of the green, white and blue when they needed it. And ultimately got the job done by taking two half chances when they came their way.

Thanks for joining in our liveblog on day one of the 2014 World Cup, we’ve got a LOT more football where that came from.

Now, off to bed with you so that you’re ready to give Spain V Holland your all tomorrow.

About the author:

Sean Farrell