The opening game of FIFA 2014 sees hosts Brazil take on one of the fancied outsiders, Croatia. Join our handicapper as he breaks down the betting odds.
In recent years there has been a move away from the tradition having the current holders play the opening game and clearly the opportunity to have Brazil play in the prime time fixture on June 14 was too much of an attraction for FIFA and the tournament organisers to pass up on.
If you are looking to pointers for this game, though, only once since 1978 has a host playing in the opening fixture won the game. That was Germany in 2006, who were also the holders of the trophy. It is no coincidence that that was also the only opening game to have a significant number of goals, as these also tend to be drab affairs, with neither side wanting to look foolish in front of the world media spotlight that inevitably shines upon such a prestigious fixture.
Brazil did win the last time that they played the opening game, 2-1 against Scotland in France 1998 (when they were the holders), although this writer recalls that they were somewhat lucky to come out on top in that match. That, however, is less of a pointer as 2014 Croatia are better than the Scottish team on show that day.
All of the evidence, therefore, points towards this game being a draw. So strongly fancied are the Brazilians that even that result is at the remarkable odds of 5.5 pretty much across the board. If you are feeling especially bold you could even look to the correct score market, where a 1-1 result will get you a whopping 12.0 from BetVictor.
In fact, the market is so confident that there are going to be goals in this game that betting on there being fewer than 1.5 goals will still attract odds of around 4.0; if you fancy the hosts to win then that might be a better bet for your soccer picks than going for them at the measly win odds on offer.