It could be argued that Scotland could have been in Croatia’s position if they were not so shit in the opening fixtures of qualification. Scotland actually beat Croatia home and away during a mini resurgence which typically meant nothing and had no bearing on the group. However this would be an extreme case of fantasy as in truth Scotland had no chance of qualifying for Brazil under the leadership of Craig Levein and even if we had secured Gordon Strachan at the start of the campaign we still wouldn’t have beaten Belgium and would have probably been thumped by Iceland in the play-off (Croatia eventually snuck through).
I’ll be flying across the Atlantic to Brazil when the opening game of Brazil 2014-at least I think I will, as I still haven’t studied the time difference and flight duration. When I land I could walk into a country in party mode after wonderful and emphatic opening win or I could walk into riot of furious Brazilians protesting after a demoralising draw or dare I say it…………defeat.
I doubt it.
The Croatians are no great shakes even with the likes of Champions League winner, Luca Modric and Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic and Brazil should overcome their shakey defence, especially with the home support. However if Croatia begin to pepper the Brazilian defence and pressurise the mercurial David Luiz and out of form goalie, Cesar the crowd may turn on their beloved Selecao sending them into a tailspin.
Historically the opening game brings surprises : 1986, Italy 1 Bulgaria 1, 1990. Argentina 0 Cameroon 1 and 2002, Senegal 1 France 0 but it seems doubtful this time round.