Brazil v Croatia
The build up for the game was immense, it was fuelled by pure patriotism by both sides but most noticeably Brazil, with keeper Julio Cesar being brought to tears as the national anthem was sung.
The game started with Croatia looking the more threatening of the two teams, as they sat back with an organised defence that pressed the opposition with great efficiency. This set-up allowed Croatia to counter against Brazil whenever the ball was cheaply lost. This approach led to the away side taking the lead in the 11th minute as a low whipped cross from Olic being latched on by Jelavic who got a feint touch on the ball diverting it towards Marcelo who was unable to adjust his feet, causing the ball to bounce of him and into the back of the net.
Unfortunately for Croatia this lead did not last as 18 minutes later Neymar struck back for Brazil, with a low shot outside the box that trickled into the bottom right-hand corner, hitting the post as it went in. Despite it being good placement by Neymar the keeper should have been able to save the shot.
After half-time Brazil’s performance improved slightly but not to a great enough extent, they looked ridged on the ball and their only source of creativity was coming from Neymar who put in a stellar performance for his World Cup debut.
In the 71st minute Brazil found their breakthrough, albeit controversially as Fred went down in the box dramatically after receiving very little if any contact from the defender, this ultimately led to the referee pointing to the penalty spot without any hesitation. A very big mistake that completely changed the outcome of the game. Neymar stepped up and after a stuttered run-up Neymar stroked his penalty into the corner and despite Pletikosa getting a solid hand to it he couldn’t prevent it going in.
Croatia then looked to have got themselves back into the game in the 85th minute as Olic knocked down to Vrsaijko who put the ball into the empty net, however the ref brought play back for a foul on Cesar.
Finally Brazil rubbed salt into the wounds for Croatia as Oscar latched onto a beautifully weighted through ball before breaking through and smashing into the bottom corner of the net, ending the match and giving Brazil all three points.
The win was not entirely deserved for Brazil and they will have to perform much better if they wish to be crowned champions, as for Croatia is was a valiant attempt that was unlucky not to pay off as two controversial decisions shaped the outcome of the tie.