Your daily World Cup tip sheet for who’s playing when, and what to watch for. We'll deliver a new briefing the evening before every game day, highlighting the can't-miss match and which players to watch.
Match of the day: Brazil vs. Croatia
The host nation takes centre stage on the opening day of the tournament, with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men facing both the expectations of a soccer-mad nation and a balanced side from Croatia. Scolari led Brazil to a World Cup title in 2002, and is under immense pressure to do the same on home soil. All of your favourite mononymous players will be in their familiar gold and green kits, including Hulk, Fred, Jo, Oscar, Fernandinho and Marcello. Look for Toronto FC goalkeeper (briefly) Julio Cesar to be the man in net. Croatia expects to give Mexico a run for second spot in Group A, leaning on a strong midfield anchored by Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic. Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic (suspended for the first game while serving a red card from qualification) will be counted on to provide the goals.
Player to watch: Brazil’s Neymar
The Barcelona forward was a massive star for Santos FC in his homeland before joining the Spanish giants in May of 2013. Just 22 years old, he is the poster boy for the tournament, a genius with the ball who is expected to fill the net and lead Brazil to the title.
Your World Cup
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Graphic by Trish McAlaster