DAY ONE – 12TH JUNE 2014
Tonight sees the opening clash of the 2014 World Cup when hosts Brazil entertain Croatia in Sao Paulo, the biggest city in South America on what is a national holiday in the host nation today. Luiz Felipe Scolari already knows his favoured starting eleven, which means the likes of Dante, Ramires and Willian look to miss out on a starting place in the tournament opener.
For Croatia, Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic will be missing as he is suspended. Ivica Olic should lead the attack, with Eduardo and Nikica Jelavic on the bench in Mandzukic’s absence. This may see Inter starlet Mateo Kovacic pushed to the left-wing and Barcelona new-signing Ivan Rakitić operate behind Olic. The only injury worry for Niko Kovac is that left-back Danijel Pranjic is a doubt, so Sime Arsaljko may slot to replace him.
The Daily Mail is reporting that England’s Danny Welbeck is set to give Roy Hodgson a boost when he returns to training tomorrow. Rumoured to start against Italy on Saturday, the forward threw Hodgson’s plans into disarray earlier this week when he limped out of a training session with a hamstring worry.
Meanwhile another worry for Hodgson could be the state of the pitch in Manaus. The FA have sent a member of Hodgson’s staff to inspect the pitch after the head groundsman admitted it was in “bad shape” ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the Italians.
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