No pressure, Brazil, no pressure. Thoughts inevitably turn to 1950, when FIFA’s peculiar decision to have a group stage for the final round of the competition left Brazil – hosts then, as now – needing a draw from their final match against Uruguay to win the competition. So it was that over 199,000 turned out at the Maracana and saw the host nation take the lead, before freezing and allowing Uruguay to win the competition for a second time. This loss turned out to be a psychological scar that some say the country never quite recovered from, even though they have won it five times since then. It’s now been twelve years since they last won the tournament, and this summer’s jamboree is considered theirs to lose.

Croatia, meanwhile, rode their luck a little just to be here. Qualifiers through the play-offs after a two-legged win against Iceland which wasn’t as comfortable as it should have been, there’s been a shake-up behind the scenes with Davor Suker taking over as the president of their football association, their friendly results – wins over Mali and Australia, and a draw against Switzerland – haven’t been especially impressive, and hipster’s choice Chile are likely to be breathing own their neck in this group, if we presume that Brazil shouldn’t mess up qualifying from this group. But anyway, we’ll be back shortly for pre-match canapes, followed by live commentary on the match in Sao Paulo. Well, live commentary on the match in Sao Paulo until we get bored and start talking about something else.

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Mark June 12, 201411:08 pm

Well, as Townsend said, the expectations…Brazil have to expect them. “And after the break, we are talking England…” Goodnight all…

Rob June 12, 201411:06 pm

The ITV studio has been pelted with stones. Seems you can pick up ITV Player in Brazil, after all.

Mark June 12, 201411:03 pm

Brazil grateful to the tough-tackling, nuggety…er…Oscar??? Blimey. Wouldn’t want to be in a busy bus queue next to Fred BTW. He’d be under the bus at the hint of the queue moving…

Ian June 12, 201410:59 pm

So, the first goal was the goalkeeper’s fault, the second was a penalty that wasn’t and the third came on the break in the last minute, then. On top of that, Neymar might have been sent off in the first half over that elbow, and Davi Alves might have been sent off for that clip early in the second half, with the score still at 1-1. Oh, and then there was the Croatia goal that was disallowed. Brazil need to improve, I think. But I doubt they’ll be as nervous next time around as they seemed at times this evening.

Richard June 12, 201410:55 pm

‘Perhaps not the finest game’

Great opening line from Adrian there.

Terry June 12, 201410:54 pm

Brazil were way below par but still won 3-1. The Cup is theirs.

Ted June 12, 201410:53 pm

Were Brazil to get a fourth goal, it would be the least 4-1 game in world history

Richard June 12, 201410:51 pm

3-1 to Brazil. Oscar with a toe poke from just outside the box. Keeper should have done better…again.

Terry June 12, 201410:51 pm

Can’t argue with that.

Ian June 12, 201410:51 pm

Oscar, there, chucking in a floater.

Richard June 12, 201410:50 pm


Ted June 12, 201410:50 pm

This Brazil side are strong in attack but vulnerable to floaters

Richard June 12, 201410:50 pm

If they give a shit, Brazil should be the team that they give it to.

Ian June 12, 201410:49 pm

Don’t you want us to win the game?

Ted June 12, 201410:49 pm

If they chuck in a floater, they’ll win the game

Ted June 12, 201410:49 pm

Neymar’s last action on the field as he is substituted is to shake the hand of the referee. As well he might.

Ian June 12, 201410:48 pm

What Croatia need to do, is chuck in a floater.

Ian June 12, 201410:47 pm

I heard that Pirlo has shaved his beard off.

Richard June 12, 201410:46 pm

I can’t get enough of Luis Gustavo’s facial fluff.

Ian June 12, 201410:46 pm

Well, they can’t say they haven’t had the rub of the green tonight.

Richard June 12, 201410:45 pm

Nervy final five for Brazil ahead.

Ted June 12, 201410:44 pm

After tonight’s performance, the partisan home crowd cheering every single Brazilian pass seems more sarcastic than anything else.

Ian June 12, 201410:43 pm


Ha ha ha.

Ian June 12, 201410:42 pm

What, again?

Terry June 12, 201410:42 pm

Can’t believe Lovran was booked for that ‘foul’ on Fred. I guess the ref got caught up in the moment.

Richard June 12, 201410:42 pm

They’ve certainly limited my expectations that they’ll win the whole thing.

Could be the wake up call they need though.

Ian June 12, 201410:41 pm

Brazil look really shaky, defensively, all evening. They might well not be able to contain stronger teams than Croatia, I reckon.

Richard June 12, 201410:37 pm

Quite glad you noticed. That was my prediction – a jog not a run.

Ted June 12, 201410:36 pm

Is this the way Brazil win the World Cup? Not with a bang but with a whimper?

Richard June 12, 201410:35 pm

Should be mentioned that Neymar was a bit lucky there. Good hands to the penalty but didn’t manage to keep it out.

His stuttered run up was akin to the fabled Roberto Carlos Freekick (though without the power or the swerve)

Ian June 12, 201410:34 pm

Goal! Brazil 2-1 Croatia – Pletikosa nearly redeemed himself for his lame attempt at Brazil’s first goal by getting both hands on Neymar’s penalty – which, by the way, should never have been given.

Richard June 12, 201410:33 pm

A god of punditry

Ted June 12, 201410:32 pm

Andy Townsend’s pearls of insight this evening:

– you don’t want to get beat in the first match
– the goalkeeper’s going to be disappointed he didn’t save that

Ian June 12, 201410:30 pm

That was never a penalty in a trillion, billion, gazillion years.

Richard June 12, 201410:30 pm

Fred gets pulled down by Lovren, although it looks a bit weak to me.

Penalty to Brazil. And it could be argued that its a bit harsh.

Rob June 12, 201410:29 pm

Fred sparks a Barney.

Ted June 12, 201410:29 pm

A tactically risky move, as it may make him angry.

Richard June 12, 201410:28 pm

Bernard coming on for Hulk (who’s been a bit invisible tonight)

Been impressive at Shaktar this season and likes to take players on.

Ian June 12, 201410:28 pm

Oh, OH. We’re doing shout outs to beyond the grave this evening, so a big high five to Maud Goom, who would have been “about 97” were she still alive today. Which she isn’t.

Ted June 12, 201410:26 pm

TACTICAL UPDATE: My girlfriend has an uncle called Fred, a lovely bloke of about 80 who has a prosthetic leg. As far as I know he is not the one playing as Brazil’s lone striker today. But…

Ian June 12, 201410:25 pm

It’s the square box on the front of that Croatia shirt with the number in it that really does it for me, I think. Be still, my beating heart.

Richard June 12, 201410:22 pm

Let’s agree to disagree.

Ian June 12, 201410:21 pm

Well, it looked like a foul to me. But I only saw the replay. (I’m easily distracted)

Ted June 12, 201410:20 pm

Croatia look like a team who could win this match, if only they’d believe it and start committing more men forward when they are attacking. Brazil seem to be rather average. But of course, we’ve said that before.

Richard June 12, 201410:19 pm

He also managed to get “better” into a single sentence twice early in this second half.

Sure Mark appreciated it.

Richard June 12, 201410:18 pm

Definitely not a foul in my books… now I’ve had the chance to review.

Ian June 12, 201410:18 pm

“I don’t think it was intentional”. Andy Townsend, football guru, there.

Richard June 12, 201410:17 pm

Olic screaming for a free kick on the edge of the box there. Didn’t see much of it and ITV haven’t granted us a replay.

Would have been a last man tackle too from Alves.

Richard June 12, 201410:15 pm

I take that back. Croatia are seeing plenty of the ball now – though they aren’t doing much with it.

Vrsaljko has been covering well. Olic doesn’t get back quick enough anymore so he’s having to get up and down quickly.

Ted June 12, 201410:14 pm

TACTICAL UPDATE: I’m not sure about this Croatia kit. The chequered design on the front needs to be shoved over by half a square. I’m not sold on the solid red colour on the back, either.

Richard June 12, 201410:09 pm

We’re back up and running for the second half. Chance are we will see more possession from Brazil and Croatia looking to make something on the break.

Jelavic needs to keep himself in the game by chasing the back four down. On this performance Mandzukic is definitely coming back for the Cameroon match.

Richard June 12, 201410:03 pm

Ronaldo, Messi and – obviously – Victor Moses

Well Done Samsung.

(I deviated to the Ad-break again)

Richard June 12, 201410:01 pm

I also hear it is great for reducing odours.

Richard June 12, 20149:59 pm

Any Kittens or Puppies to Housetrain nearby?

Ian June 12, 20149:53 pm

And while I’m on that, I’m looking for alternative uses for the copy of The Sun that will INEVITABLY land on the front doormat here tomorrow morning.

Ian June 12, 20149:49 pm

Half-Time: Brazil 1-1 Croatia. Not a great half for Brazil. Now, I don’t think you can extrapolate too much from that – after all, Spain lost their opening match to Switzerland four years ago – but Croatia look capable and I’d be a little surprised if they sat back for a draw, though I could understand it if they did. I’m off for a hot dog and a cup of Bovril.

Richard June 12, 20149:47 pm

Interesting fact for you:
Rakitic owns a team from his hometown which play an international team once a season in a friendly. Usually Croatia for obvious reasons.

Mark June 12, 20149:46 pm

Rob – Dave Boyle suggests Gazza would have done the cock n ball thing with the spray by now…

Ted June 12, 20149:44 pm

His bass-playing, too, is identical in style.

Terry June 12, 20149:43 pm

Rakitic sporting a late eighties Mark King hairstyle if I’m not mistaken.

Rob June 12, 20149:43 pm

Can we have a sweepstake on the first referee to draw a cock and balls using that spray?

Ted June 12, 20149:43 pm

The game has entered a stodgy phase: before Brazil take the lead and Croatia decide they can’t win after all, but not close enough to half time for someone to try something interesting. If they let all the players have a Kit Kat after every goal, this sort of thing could be avoided.

Ian June 12, 20149:43 pm

Or, as he’s otherwise known, Stipe “Dreamwrecker” Pletikosa.

Ian June 12, 20149:38 pm

I’m calling Neymar’s goal as being Pletikosa’s fault, there. Yes, yes, yes, it was nicely played, but with the ball trundling along the ground at a glacial speed like that, I can’t help but think that an international goalkeeper, playing in the World bloody Cup Finals, should have been able to get across to that.

Richard June 12, 20149:35 pm

As an aside, Ian and I were both wrong with our score predictions.

I’m hoping for better luck during the three games tomorrow.

Ted June 12, 20149:35 pm

These McDonald’s billboards at the side of the pitch are already starting to bewitch me. “#Fryfootball”. What a prospect.

Terry Duffelen June 12, 20149:33 pm

Neymar demonstrating that his left foot is as effective as his left elbow.

Ted June 12, 20149:32 pm

Neymar’s shot for the equalising goal there was the precise footballing equivalent of the kind of particularly lucky long-distance putt that saves your par on a crazy golf course.

Mark June 12, 20149:32 pm

I’m waiting for the goal-line technology. Its still 0-1 chez Murphy

Richard June 12, 20149:31 pm

Brazil 1-1 Croatia. Goal from Neymar.

Not the sweetest connection but hit the inside of the right post and slightly shook the back of the net.

Left footed shot from just outside the area.

Richard June 12, 20149:28 pm

Maybe the Brazilian’s were hopeful there had been a momentary mirage.

Ian June 12, 20149:28 pm

Really good save by the goalkeeper from Oscar’s shot there, by the way. It was a nice height for him, but he couldn’t have seen that terribly early. Brazil look really uneasy at the moment.

Ted June 12, 20149:28 pm

A good reflex save by Pletikosa after a defensive scramble and I get my first frisson of anticipation and excitement of how amused I would be if this match were to finish 1-0. It’s a tantalising prospect.

Mark June 12, 20149:27 pm

First I heard. Might be wrong. And how many millions of people worldwide have just gone “WTF?” at the goal-line technology confirming that Croatia’s goal was a…goal. I wasn’t sure until it hit the BACK of the net…

Richard June 12, 20149:26 pm

Modric doesn’t look right with short hair…. I know that’s a poor comment but with the sound down he’s hard to follow.

Richard June 12, 20149:25 pm

Are you 100% sure that was the first time? Surely 20 minutes “plus” is a new record?

Mark June 12, 20149:23 pm

First “better” from Townsend: 20 mins 17 secs. Who has that ticket??

Richard June 12, 20149:21 pm

If Brazil go two down then a power outage is a sure fire escape route. Didn’t ITV mention electrical problems earlier?

Ted June 12, 20149:21 pm

WORLD CUP CONSPIRACY THEORIES: a new occasional series. Stay tuned.

Richard June 12, 20149:20 pm

It’s shocking, the pitch quality and stadium checks have made this whole event a bit of a mess.

Not to mention the countries economic situation.

Ted June 12, 20149:20 pm

Unless Pele is going round all the sockets in the boardrooms with a fork trying to short the power out and get the match abandoned.

Ian June 12, 20149:19 pm

As a matter of interest, I’m seeing reports on Twitter that the lights keep flickering on and off inside the stadium. Whoever would have thought that a stadium completed eight minutes before kick-off of the first tournament match to be played there might have some teething problems?

Richard June 12, 20149:17 pm

I bet the bookies are rubbing their hands together.

Ted June 12, 20149:16 pm

Things we’ve learned: Brazil are better in attack than in defence. So much better, in fact, that they do the majority of the opposition’s attacking for them. I’m still chuckling away to myself.

Ian June 12, 20149:16 pm

What interested me the most about that was the lack of Brazilian bodies in the penalty area (that’s never a good sign at this early stage in a match – tiredness isn’t an excuse eleven minutes in), but it was pretty chaotic all round.

Mark June 12, 20149:15 pm

The “Brazilian Dani Alves” isn’t quite as good as the real thing…oh…wait…

Richard June 12, 20149:15 pm

It’s suddenly very quiet in Sao Paulo.

Richard June 12, 20149:13 pm

Well that’s a GOAL…. calamity for Brazil. Marcelo turning in an Olic cross. The first goal of the 2014 World Cup is an own-goal.

David Luis was slow to get back there. Great direct crosses will always cause problems.

Ian June 12, 20149:13 pm

Goal! Brazil 0-1 Croatia, and it’s a Marcelo own goal from a cross from the left. Dear me, Brazil, dear me.

Richard June 12, 20149:12 pm

Croatia could be playing a more attacking game with Mandzukic to aim at. I just can’t see Jelavic holding off Thiago Silva are David Luis for very long with these long balls forward.

If they keep it on the floor though I think their chance are worse.

Ian June 12, 20149:10 pm

There you are, first real chance of the match. A cross from the right and Olic heads narrowly wide. They were saying before the match on ITV – I know, I KNOW – that this Brazil team is stronger defensively than in attack. On that (admittedly limited) evidence, I’m some way from convinced about that.

Richard June 12, 20149:07 pm

And until a few weeks back he was owned by a Championship team…

This new look PSG central defence pairing for next season could do wonders for the national side.

Ian June 12, 20149:06 pm

Of course, of course. Julio Cesar is on loan at Toronto FC at the moment. The Brazil goalkeeper, who plays his club football in Canada. That’s a very odd thought.

Richard June 12, 20149:04 pm

Julio Cesar is already fragile so I think those early butterflies could cause him to have some messy shorts.

Ian June 12, 20149:03 pm

And we’re off! So, my question is: which of the two teams will shit themselves more? (Because I really do think that it’s possible that this might be what makes the difference between the two teams).

Richard June 12, 20149:01 pm

That’s surely the start we were all expecting…. you wait, 2018 Adrian Chiles will be commentating too.

That Score Bar is Hideous.

Mark June 12, 20148:59 pm

And the atmosphere builds and…ITV go to an ad break. FFS. Such a good start too. Andy Townsend hasn’t said a word yet

Ian June 12, 20148:59 pm

First impressions, then: Croatia’s shirts are just luscious. I would probably try to have it off with a Croatia shirt (try to get that mental image out of your head). Also, Brazil’s national anthem is a thing of beauty. Gloriously bonkers – one of the very best.

Richard June 12, 20148:58 pm

Julio Cesar is crying already – I think he already believes they’ve won it!

Richard June 12, 20148:56 pm

So, this stadium is a bit full. If Brazil go one down I could see a lot of boo’s echoing our fragile eardrums. I’m still a little off balance after that Jennifer Lopez opener.

To keep those of you up to date: during the opening ceremony both Ian and I decided a Brazil win was the eventual outcome of the next 90 minutes. Which basically means Croatia are going to get something out of it.

Ian June 12, 20148:48 pm

Eyes down for a full house. Good evening again everybody, and welcome to our live coverage of the opening match of the 2014 World Cup finals, between Brazil and Croatia from Sao Paulo. Of course, the quality of coverage of this match – from here, at least – is dependent upon two factors. Firstly, I have to NOT punch the television screen in should the cameras zoom in on that old wretch, Sepp Blatter. Secondly, the sun is past the yardarm and I fancy a light ale or two. So, this could turn out to be an eventful evening, and Richard Grinham (who goes under the moniker of @somemannoplan on Twitter, if you’re interested) will be joining me presently for the festivities.