Brazil eager to let the games begin

  • Article by: TALES AZZONI
  • Updated: June 11, 2014 - 12:21 AM

The host country would like its favored soccer team’s play to wipe out worries over facilities.

hide

A man dressed in an outfit with Brazilian flags motifs stood on a downtown corner in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday. The 2014 World Cup is set to begin Thursday.

Photo: Rodrigo Abd • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Associated Press

– It’s almost time. The day Brazilians have been anxiously waiting for is finally arriving.

Brazil plays Croatia on Thursday to get the home World Cup underway, beginning its quest for a sixth world title almost seven years after the nation was picked as host.

After so much talk about delays, protests and problems, fans at last are getting a chance to cheer for the national team on home soil in soccer’s showcase tournament.

If Brazil wins the opening game, the fact that the stadium in Sao Paulo isn’t even fully finished yet will quickly be forgotten. A loss, quite simply, is unthinkable for a nation whose identity is so closely linked to its soccer team.

Brazil hasn’t hosted the World Cup since 1950, when it endured a heartbreaking loss to Uruguay in the last title-deciding game. This time, everybody knows that only the title will be enough to please the home crowd.

“We are all eager to get started, we are just counting the days,” Brazil midfielder Ramires said Tuesday. “We know that the fans have confidence in our team and they are behind us. We have to do everything possible to try to win this World Cup. We know everybody is expecting us to do it.”

Boosted by the home crowd, Brazil is one of the main favorites to recapture the trophy won by Spain four years ago in South Africa. But the other usual World Cup contenders will be trying to spoil the party, including Germany, Italy, Argentina and the Netherlands, runner-up in 2010.

Brazil is trying to become the first nation to win the World Cup at home since France did it in 1998. The Brazilians were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the past two tournaments, to France in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2010.

A festive World Cup atmosphere has taken over Brazil in the run-up to the tournament despite the country’s preparation problems and the threats of protests. Brazilians had been slow to get into the World Cup mood, but now streets are being painted with the green and yellow colors and local flags are being displayed on windows of homes across the country.

The crowd support is one of the biggest reasons coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has been saying loud and clear that Brazil is obligated to win the World Cup at home. Players also don’t hide that they believe Brazil is the main title favorite.

“We know that we will have the fans behind us, and together I think we have a great chance of reaching our final goal, which is to win the World Cup,” Brazil starting midfielder Luiz Gustavo said.

Brazilian fans had been questioning the national team before last year’s Confederations Cup, but the title in the warm-up tournament was enough to bring the fans back on board. That tournament also helped show that Brazil has a team capable of competing against the top soccer nations today. The victory came in a final against world champion Spain.

“The Confederations Cup allowed us to regain our confidence,” said Scolari, the coach when Brazil won the world title in 2002. “Now we have to repeat that during the World Cup.”

Brazil begins the tournament having won 15 of its past 16 matches, the only loss 1-0 at Switzerland in the first match after the Confederations Cup.

Brazil will start the World Cup with the same lineup that won the Confederations Cup, with 22-year-old Barcelona striker Neymar leading the team.

Croatia, led by Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric, will hope to pull off a monumental upset, but the team won’t be at full strength against the hosts. Coach Niko Kovac won’t have forward Mario Mandzukic, who was red-carded in the team’s final qualifier, and experienced midfielder Niko Kranjcar, who had to be dropped from the squad because of a late hamstring injury. Novac already was without defender Josip Simunic, who was banned for 10 games by FIFA for leading fans in a pro-Nazi chant after a qualifying match.

  • related content

  • A street performer dressed as a Brazilian national soccer team player balanced a ball on his head during his presentation.. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

  • Fans of Turkey, Chile, and Neatherlands pose for a selfie.(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: K. Gibson 8
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: C. Wilson 5
Texas - WP: R. Ross Jr. 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Doolittle 1
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 5 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 2
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you support Wednesday's decision to sideline Adrian Peterson again?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close