World Cup 2014: Fixtures, Match Odds, Predictions, Live Stream Info for Day 1

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

TERESOPOLIS, BRAZIL - JUNE 10: Neymar in action during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, on June 10, 2014 in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Hosts Brazil kick off the 2014 World Cup on Thursday against Croatia in Sao Paulo to signal the start of a month-long festival of football.

The Group A encounter is the only match on Day 1 of the tournament, starting after the 25-minute-long opening ceremony.

It will be the first chance for some time to see Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil—favourites to win the competition—pit their wits in a competitive match.

Their position as hosts mean they did not have to go through qualifying for the tournament.

Read on for live streaming information, a look at the odds and predictions for Day 1 of the World Cup.

 

Date: Thursday, June 12 

Time: 4 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. BST

Live Stream: ESPN Player (US), ITV Player (UK)

 

Hosts Looking For Fast Start

TERESOPOLIS, BRAZIL - JUNE 09: Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in action during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, on June 09, 2014 in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro, B
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

As far as the bookies are concerned, Croatia have absolutely no chance of making a winning start to their campaign, per Oddsshark.

World Cup 2014: Brazil vs. Croatia Odds
Odds
Brazil Win1/3
Croatia Win12/1
Draw4/1
Oddsshark

They're almost certainly right. Not only are Brazil a great team, the 68,000 people in the Arena de Sao Paulo on Thursday will all be willing Scolari's men on.

While being the host country brings a huge amount of pressure for Brazil, historically it is an advantage. 

In 19 World Cups, the hosts have reached the final on eight occasions and won the tournament six times.

Brazil won the Confederations Cup last year, beating world champions Spain 3-0 in the final, and they have quite some team, including the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Hulk and Fred.

The last 16 of Brazil's matches have seen the squad win 15 of them, per BBC Sport; that's some form to take into the tournament. 

They will look to get a fast start against Croatia from which they can build momentum to take them forward in the tournament. 

However, Croatia will be no pushover. They have some high-quality players and are a well-disciplined and organised side.

Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric are a force to be reckoned with in the centre of midfield and should certainly be able to create some decent opportunities for Niko Kovac's side. 

It would be quite something if Croatia could net the first goal in Thursday's encounter; it would certainly quieten the stadium somewhat.

 

Fred to Score and Brazil to Win

TERESOPOLIS, BRAZIL - JUNE 08: Fred smiles during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro on June 08, 2014 in Teresopolis, Brazil. (Photo
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Fred starred for Brazil in the Confederations Cup last year—scoring five goals, including two in the final—and he is likely to be their main central striker for the World Cup.

He is a fantastic finisher, as proven by his goal against Serbia on Friday, per Bleacher Report UK:

Though Neymar is the poster boy for the tournament and Brazil's star man, Fred will have a big part to play if the hosts are to go on to win the tournament. 

His instinct should bag him a goal on Thursday as Brazil are likely to have a lot of the ball, and that should give Fred plenty of opportunities in front of goal.

Although Croatia are likely to present a difficult early test, Brazil's quality, paired with what is sure to be an incredible atmosphere, should spur them to victory.

Prediction: Brazil 3-1 Croatia