To the delight of a nation Brazil got their campaign for a record-extending sixth title off to a winning start when the country’s darling Neymar scored twice to help his side to a 3-1 win over Croatia.
But it wasn’t the best of starts for the host nation when on 11 minutes the Arena de Sao Paulo was silenced when Brazil defender Marcelo scored an own goal.
Nikica Jelavic miskicked an Ivica Olic driving low cross from the left but it ran into the path of a back-tracking Marcelo, who sent it in to the back of his own net.
Just before the half hour mark Neymar leveled matters from long range.
Oscar beat two men in midfield to play the number 10 in space.
Neymar took a couple of strides before unleashing a delightful left-footer that found the base of the post and went in.
He was back on the scoresheet on 71 minutes but in controversial fashion.
Fred threw himself to the floor in the box while backing into Dejan Lovren and earned a dubious penalty from referee Yuichi Nishimura.
Up stepped Neymar and although Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa got a firm hand on the ball it went in for the hosts to take the lead.
Oscar made sure of the win in stoppage time to send the home crowd into wild jubilation.
The World Cup continues on Friday as Group A completes its first round of matches with Mexico – Cameroon.
Chile and Australia are also in action but Group B commences with a cracker – a rematch of the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands.
2010 final rematch
Spain kick off their campaign in Salvador against the Dutch who they battled past to lift the crown in South Africa four years ago.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque and his men are hunting a fourth straight major trophy in Brazil.
Del Bosque has a fully fit squad to choose from as Brazil-born Diego Costa has recovered from a hamstring injury that plagued the end of his stunning club season.
He might, however, start the game on the bench but confirmed he was fully fit for the tie.
The Chelsea-bound striker, who shined for Atletico Madrid last season said “I feel much better by all means. The injury is behind me now, I feel one hundred per cent, It won’t be any problem.”
Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal also has no injury concerns as Jonathan de Guzman has recovered from a hamstring problem.
Beautiful football no longer matters for the Dutch and van Gaal is likely to jam up the middle with a 3-5-2 formation leaving skipper Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben to spearhead the attack and get the result.
Wesley Sneijder meanwhile is set to win a milestone 100th cap for his country.
Who will be the winner at the Arena Fonte Nova?
Everyday the Euronews sports team will share their predictions for each match.
Remember, you can send us your own predictions, on the social networks, using #TheCornerScores.
So here they are for Friday.
Unanimously the sports team predict Mexico will enjoy victory in their Group A opener against Cameroon – but have them down for a 2-0 win.
Despite our chief sports editor insisting his native Spain will thrash the Netherlands the rest of us were not so convinced and tipped that match to finish one all.
We believe Chile will prove too strong for the Socceroos of Australia and will win through 2-0.
FIFA troubles within
Just as Fifa should be celebrating the start of the 20th edition of their falgship event instead football’s world governing body is having to defend itself from fierce criticism – notably from UEFA chief Michel Platini who has withdrawn his support his former ally – Fifa President Sepp Blatter.
Frenchman Platini had long been a supporter of Blatter, but this week the UEFA president said he will not back his Fifa counterpart at next year’s election.
FIFA and Blatter have come under increasing criticism over the 2022 Qatar World Cup and have had to face down multiple corruption scandals within the body.
The most recent corruption allegations involve the 2022 Qatar World Cup bid.
78-year-old Blatter’s comments that the British media’s motivation in investigating the Qatar bid were “racist” certainly hasen’t helped his cause.
But the Swiss remains determined to stay in football’s most powerful position.
He told the FIFA congress: “I am ready to accompany you in the future for the game for the world. But it is your decision….”
Blatter has been FIFA president since 1998 and next year he’ll be seeking a fifth term.
Platini insists FIFA needs ‘a breath of fresh air’ and although he’s been widely tipped as Blatter’s successor the Frenchman has yet to confirm he’ll run for the presidency.
From the comfort of your local stadium
If your living room is just not big enough to watch the World Cup from but you still need your creature comforts the Germans have come up with a gigantic solution in Berlin.
A World Cup living room.
Second division side FC Union Berlin’s stadium will play host and local fans have been encouraged to bring their own sofas on to the pitch and watch the matches on a giant screen.
Some 3000 people will be able to watch all the World Cup games on 712 televisions and from the comfort of 780 sofas.
Another 10 000 supporters will fill up the stands for this month long football fiesta.