Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has the luxury of being able to field the same team that destroyed world champions Spain 3-0 in the final of last year's Confederations Cup, with Barcelona star Neymar the focal point of a powerful and settled line-up.

The five-time champions are expected to qualify from their group without too much trouble but Barcelona defender Dani Alves admitted there was anxiety ahead of the Sao Paulo opener, as they seek to ease the jitters.

"I have always said that if you don't feel anxiety it is not worth being a professional athlete. The opening game is difficult, important," said Alves.

"The three points count but so does the idea of sending out a message to our rivals. The most important game at the World Cup, for everyone, is the opening game," he said.

Best foot forward

He added: "We will only know on Thursday if everything is OK. We are very confident and we want this moment to come. We want to enjoy the World Cup. We are going to try to give a good image."

The only question mark for tournament favourites Brazil for the match at the new Corinthians Arena would appear to be over the out-of-sorts Oscar, with his impressive Chelsea team-mate Willian pushing for a starting berth.

But Scolari, who masterminded Brazil's last World Cup win in 2002, is likely to stick with his tried-and-tested winning formula against 18th-ranked Croatia after the same 11 edged past Serbia 1-0 in a friendly last week, courtesy of a goal from Fred.

READ MORE: Brazil's crisis plan - give it to Neymar

Brazilian reserve striker Jo, speaking after training on Tuesday, said the mood in the camp was calm but the nerves would be jangling as kick-off approached.

"At this moment, everyone is calm," said the striker. "When we go to Sao Paulo and the game approaches, there will be excitement, anxiety. But the opening of the World Cup in our country will be different to others," he said.

And squad member Bernard said it was crucial to start the tournament with a win as Brazil chase their first World Cup tournament win on home soil.

"There are no easy games and the game against Serbia was very complicated," said the winger. "They are quite a well-balanced side. I think the game against Croatia will be similar. It's important to be focused on the opening game, we need to start off with three points."

Waiting for clearance

Meanwhile, Croatia are waiting on clearance from governing body FIFA to allow them to replace injured midfielder Ivan Mocinic with Milan Badelj, the national football federation said.

Mocinic, 21, is the fourth player from the Croat squad to be forced to drop out because of injury but normally FIFA rules allow squads to replace injured players up to the eve of the kick-off of the tournament.

Mocinic suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury and is expected to be sidelined for up to three weeks. "We have to take into account the interest of the squad but also the interest of both Mocinic and his club," said coach Niko Kovac.

Five new technologies

The 2014 World Cup will represent the first time that goal-line technology has been used at football's showpiece event, but technological advances will also shape the tournament in other ways.


Here are the five new technologies that will aid players, officials and fans during the competition, which starts on Thursday:

Vanishing foam

In a bid to prevent teams from illegally gaining ground at free-kicks, referees at the tournament will be armed with small canisters of vanishing foam. The biodegradable white substance will be sprayed on the pitch to mark where free-kicks should be taken from and the 10-yard distance that the opposition's defensive wall must observe. Known as Aero Comex Futline, the substance dissolves within a minute. "Players respect it," says Australian referee Ben Williams. "It's a great innovation and I'm looking forward to using it," he said.

The 'Twitterwall'

The German Football Federation (DFB) has installed a specially designed 'Twitterwall' at the Germany team's hotel near Porto Seguro in the eastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Using the hashtag #aneurerseite (#onyourside), supporters can send picture messages encouraging the team that will be displayed on the wall for the players to see. A similar idea was used at Frankfurt airport before the squad flew out to Brazil.


Uruguay's players have been keeping in touch with each other prior to the tournament by using the WhatsApp instant messaging service on their smartphones. Striker Edinson Cavani revealed that he and his team-mates used the app to share their thoughts on the World Cup draw, which saw the South American champions paired with England, Italy and Costa Rica. "It was a bit like 'Oh, Italy! Oh, England!'" Cavani told Britain's FourFourTwo magazine. "That messaging group is great for keeping us in contact because we're playing all around the world and we can support each other. In that moment, it went crazy!"

Ultra High Definition television

The 2014 World Cup will be the first tournament to be partly captured in Ultra High Definition (UHD), which boasts a resolution approximately four times higher than conventional High Definition television and requires a satellite network capable of handling 100 megabits of data per second. The tournament is seen as a trial run for the technology, which is not yet widely available.


England's players have each been equipped with iPads containing personalised information about their group-stage opponents. The Football Association has designed a scouting app that allows Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and their team-mates to access personal data and video footage of the specific opponents they will come up against at the tournament. England have also been using heat chambers and wearing extra layers of clothing in training in a bid to replicate the humid conditions in the Amazonian city of Manaus, where they will play Italy on Saturday.

A look at the all-time FIFA World Cup records

World Cup records according to world governing body FIFA ahead of the 2014 edition which begins in Sao Paulo on Thursday:

Most World Cup wins

5 -- Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

Player appeared at most World Cup finals

5 -- Antonio Carbajal (MEX) (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966) and Lothar Matthaeus (GER) (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998)

Most goals scored in a match

5 -- Oleg Salenko for Russia in 1994 in their 6-1 win over Cameroon in the group pahse.

Number of teams that have won World Cup
8: Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, England, Italy, France, Argentina.

Fastest goal scored

11 seconds by Hakan Sukur in 2002 for Turkey against South Korea in the third placed match which the Turks won 3-1.

Most goals scored at one World Cup finals

13 -- Frenchman Just Fontaine in 1958.

Record World Cup finals scorer:

15 -- Ronaldo or 'The Phenomenon' as the Brazilian striker was nicknamed accruing the goals over three World Cups in 1998, 2002 and 2006

Youngest player to play at a finals:

Norman Whiteside when he played for Northern Ireland at the 1982 finals when he was 17 years, one month and 10 days old.

Most appearances by a country at the finals:

19 -- Brazil is the only country to have appeared at all the World Cup finals since the inaugural one in 1930 -- the ones scheduled for 1942 and 1946 did not take place because of World War II and its immediate aftermath.

Oldest player to appear at a finals:

Roger Milla in the 1994 finals in the United States when he was 42 years, one month and eight days old.

Worst disciplinary record

Argentina whom in 70 games have received 103 yellow cards, one double yellow (straight red) and nine red cards.


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