Brazil - Croatia Betting Preview: Back the hosts to get off to a flying start in Sao Paulo

The Arena Corinthians stages the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, with Hugh Wilson backing the hosts to score early on and cruise past their opposition
The hosts and 3/1 (4.00) outright favourites Brazil will get the World Cup underway on Thursday evening when take on Croatia. Luiz Felipe Scolari's side have a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders, with a whole nation expecting a successful tournament and a quick start against Niko Kovac's men.

Brazil come into this match after convincingly winning the Confederations Cup which was held in the country last summer. Scolari's side won all five matches, beating the likes of Mexico, Italy and Uruguay, before thrashing Spain 3-0 in the final in a dominant display which confirmed they will be the team to beat over the next month.

In preparation for the finals this year, Brazil have played three recent friendlies, winning all of them, scoring 10 goals in the process and conceding none. Paddy Power price them at 1/3 (1.33) to take three points.

Croatia had a struggle to reach the finals this summer, having to progress through the play-offs to qualify. With the Croatian's finishing second in their qualifying group with an unconvincing display over their 10 matches, Niko Kovac took over just before their play-offs after Igor Stimac was sacked.

A 2-0 aggregate win over Iceland was good enough to see them qualify, with Kovac yet to taste defeat in his five matches as head coach. Paddy Power price them at 10/1 (11.00) to cause a shock, with the same firm pricing the draw at 4/1 (5.00).

Whilst playing in the Confederations Cup last Summer, Brazil were quick starters in their matches, leading at half time and full time in every game.

With Scolari's side keen to start with a bang and show some serious intent in front of a passionate home support, it's worth backing them in the half time/full time market at 10/11 (1.91) which seems to offer solid value with Paddy Power, especially as their outright price is too skinny to back as a single bet for many punters.

As well as paying out for Brazil, this bet has landed against Croatia in their last five defeats, including all losses in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

For those looking for a longer price to back in this opening fixture, Brazil to score three or more goals stands out with Paddy Power at 7/4 (2.75). The Selecao have been in sensational form in-front of goal, with the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Fred and Hulk in fine form.

This bet would have landed in five of their last nine matches, and with the host nation averaging just under three goals scored per game in the Confederations Cup, it's certainly worth a small investment on them making a dominant start to the tournament.

Brazil half time/full time at 10/11 (1.91) for a 2.5pt stake with Paddy Power
Brazil to score three or more goals at 7/4 (2.75) for a 1 pt stake with Paddy Power

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