Brazil vs. Croatia: Betting Line, Predictions and 2014 World Cup Opener Preview

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIJune 10, 2014

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2013 file photo, Brazil soccer team poses prior to the start their  international friendly soccer match against Zambia at the Bird's Nest national stadium in Beijing, China. Background from left: Diego Cavalier, Paulinho, Ramires, Lucas, Anderson Dede, and David Luiz. Foreground from left: Neymar, Dani Alves, Alexandre Pato, Lucas Moura and Maxwell. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)- SEE FURTHER WORLD CUP CONTENT AT APIMAGES.COM
Associated Press

The 2014 World Cup will kick off when host country Brazil take on Croatia in a Group A matchup.

If you recall, we found out way back in December that these two countries would participate in the epic tournament's first match:

Group A also includes Cameroon and Mexico. While Brazil is the favorite of the bunch, it will likely come down to the head-to-head play of the other three teams to determine which other team advances.

The World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, so there is a lot to look out for during the 32-team tournament. Before we look ahead to the latter stages of the tournament, let's take a look at the betting line and some predictions for the 2014 World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia.


Betting Line

The betting line for this World Cup opener is courtesy of Odds Shark on June 9.

2014 World Cup Opener Betting Line
Best Croatia Line+1150
Best Brazil Line-303
Best Draw Line+475 on June 9



Croatia Will Score First

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 19:  (L-R) Dejan Lovren of Southampton is challenged by Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park on April 19, 2014 in Birmingham, England.  (Ph
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

There's really only one way to defeat the hosts of the World Cup at home: Score first.

The crowd is going to be wild for the World Cup opener. The thousands of fans in attendance will be cheering for Brazil, and the stadium will be absurdly loud. So loud, in fact, that it will probably be difficult for team managers to relay information to players.

The one way to silence a home crowd is to score first, and Croatia know that is the best course of action against a very, very strong Brazil team.

Scoring first is no easy task—actually, scoring against Brazil isn't easy in general—but doing so will give Croatia the opportunity to get out to an early lead. That early lead is valuable, especially considering that beIN Sports' Tancredi Palmeri believes Croatia lack strength in depth:

With poor defense and a lack of depth, Croatia are underdogs against Brazil. This poor defense will need to work hard to keep Brazil in check. Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense, however, so at least one early goal from Croatia will swing momentum their way.


Stipe Pletikosa Will Hold Brazil to 3 Goals or Fewer

ZAGREB, CROATIA - NOVEMBER 19: Goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa of Croatia reacts after Mario Mandzukic of Croatia scored his team's first goal with team mates during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier play-off second leg match between Croatia and Iceland at Mak
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Likely Croatia's goalkeeper for this match, Stipe Pletikosa will be in for a rough 90 minutes against a Brazil team that know how to find the back of the net.

Pletikosa will need to be fantastic in net. Brazil are loaded with strikers who know how to score goals. The key to defeating Brazil is to simply keep them in check. Completely stopping them is nearly impossible.

Brazil just barely defeated Croatia in the 2006 World Cup, and that was because Kaka beat Pletikosa with a great finish.

Pletikosa was great in that match, and eight years later, he'll need to do the same. The goalkeeper isn't scared of the challenge, reports Xinhua, via"If I ever had feared any forwards that fear disappeared in the match against Brazil at the 2006 World Cup when I had against me players like Ronaldo, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldinho."

The 35-year-old will hold Brazil to three goals or fewer.


Brazil Will Still Win

Despite an opening goal by Croatia and a solid overall effort from Pletikosa, Brazil are simply too talented to drop the World Cup opener on their home turf.

Neymar and Co. will impose their will on the Croatian defense. Even if Brazil are held to three goals or fewer, you can rest assured that there is enough attacking power to secure the victory.

When one striker attracts attention from defenders, somebody else will sneak behind the rest of the defense and get a good look at the net. Having so many talented strikers on the same attack is a scary thought for the opposition.

Croatia will give Brazil a run for their money in the World Cup opener, but it will take a miraculous performance by the underdogs to steal this game.

Prediction: Brazil 3, Croatia 1


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