By, Kyle Gibson
Can you feel the excitement? Can you feel the passion? Can you feel the sense of relief?
All of those emotions and many more were felt in abundance tonight in Sao Paolo as Brazil opened the FIFA World Cup with a 3-1 win over Group A foe Croatia, escaping an early Marcelo own goal with two from Neymar and one from Oscar.
Here are my takeaways from a match that saved its best for the last minutes.
Marcelo is the luckiest person On Earth tonight
Poor Marcelo’s ugly own goal early on was the exact opposite of what everyone on earth expected to start that game. If you know the story of Barbosa, Brazil’s goalkeeper that is still the scapegoat of the 1950 Brazil World Cup, then you know Marcelo is lucky that his teammates bailed him out. This raises questions, as Marcelo can truly be very shaky at the back. Credit Croatia for attacking and being in the position to net an own goal, but Marcelo needs to reel it in from now on.
Forget the dubious penalty, Brazil would have found a way anyway
Referee Yuichi Nishimura probably made the wrong call on the penalty that sent Brazil ahead, but in truth I would have made the same call. With thousands of fans screaming at you and what looks like contact, it’s an easier decision than you think. If you’re Croatia, don’t give a Brazilian the chance to go down in the box! Brazil was on the attack before that anyway and I have no doubt that a goal was imminent.
Neymar and Oscar left nothing on the field
Neymar Jr. opened his World Cup account with 2 goals and made all kinds of plays in what has to be one of the best World Cup debuts ever. With 33 goals in 50 caps and at age 22, one has to think Neymar has a legitimate shot to break Pele’s scoring record of 77 goals for Brazil. Sensational stuff. Neymar has become must watch every time he laces up.
Equally impressive though, was Oscar. Neymar’s midfield mate is a little magician with clever passes, runs and chances. His goal outdid Neymar’s first, as he sent a straight toepoke past Pletikosa late in the game.
Add Dani Alves, who has a motor that will never stop and you have a recipe for success in Group A.
You’re Next, Mexico.