After years of anticipation, the 2014 World Cup has finally kicked off in Brazil, where the host nation has amazingly not lost a competitive match on home soil since 1975.
An incredible 39 years ago, that defeat saw Brazil lose 3-1 to Peru in the first leg of the Copa America semifinal. At that time, none of the players on Brazil's current team were alive.
The Brazilians did lose at home in 2002, but that came in an international friendly against Paraguay. Additionally, the game was Brazil's homecoming match following their 2002 World Cup conquest in Japan earlier that summer, so manager Luiz Felipe Scolari barely played his starters.
Scolari coached elsewhere until 2012, when he was reappointed as Brazil's manager after a 10-year absence from the national team setup.
Under their former boss, Brazil powered through last year's Confederations Cup, a tune-up tournament traditionally held in the host country the year before the World Cup takes place.
In fact, Brazil topped reigning World Cup champions Spain in the Cup's final, setting the stage for further glory this year.
However, no Confederations Cup winner has gone on to claim the following year's World Cup, a streak Brazil will be pressured to snap by their soccer-crazed home supporters.
Currently ranked third in the world by FIFA, the present Brazil squad is based on a strong defensive foundation that still possesses unique flair in attack. That's where 22-year-old superstar Neymar steals the show with creative offensive play that few can dream to duplicate.
Neymar lived up to his reputation in the Cup opener on Thursday, scoring two of Brazil's three goals in a 3-1 triumph over a strong Croatian side. The hosts got off to a slow start, highlighted by a Marcelo own goal, but Croatia could only hold off El Selecao for so long.
Neymar netted the equalizer in the 29th minute, then added a penalty in the 71st after Fred drew a questionable call in the box. Once Oscar added a goal in stoppage time, there was no doubt that Brazil's home unbeaten streak in competitive play would continue.
Once again loaded with talent, Brazil will hope to not only hoist a record sixth World Cup title, but also continue their outstanding home win streak along the way.
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