The curtain raiser on the greatest show on Earth kicks off today at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo as hosts Brazil take on a spirited Croatian side to kickstart one month of footballing extravaganza.
The Selecao take the pitch burdened with massive expectations as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s young bunch seek an unprecedented sixth title at the Maracana on July the 13th.
Brazil are expecting, and Neymar is the supposed torch bearer. The young star teased a nation in last summer’s Confederations Cup, and showed why Scolari’s entire game plan forward revolves around the plucky Barcelona star.
The tricky winger-cum-second striker provides the ammunition as well as the goals in abundance in the absence of any proficient striker. His all-round ability to press high up the pitch, and run into spaces quickly in transition is Brazil’s evident strategy.
Moreover, he is never afraid of taking defenders one-on-one, which is his and probably Brazil’s biggest asset. His ability to take on defenders and induce fouls means that he is Brazil’s gameplan at the showpiece event.
A second round clash with defending Champions Spain or last edition’s runners up Netherlands looks probable but with Neymar being the fulcrum of a team that needs to win a record 6th title just to meet expectations, this might just be the tournament where the 22 year old stakes a claim for being one of the best in the world.
Neymar’s dazzling brilliance to get past defenders and the ability to out think goalkeepers with low but fierce drives puts him as one the favourites to get into the score sheet during the ninety minutes of intense action on the pitch.