History is on Brazil's side in opener

[WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Thursday] The World Cup opens with the Brazil facing Croatia at Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians. It marks the first time since 1970 in Mexico that the tournament opens with a single game involving the host.

Brazil-Croatia

Group A
Thursday, June 12 | Sao Paulo: Arena Corinthians | Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan).
TV: ESPN, Univision/UDN, 4 p.m. ET.
Suspensions:
Croatia -- Mario Mandzukic.

Brazil, record five-time winner and the only nation to play in all World Cups, hasn't lost its opening game of the tournament since its first games in both 1930 (2-1 to Yugoslavia) and 1934 (3-1 to Spain in a knockout game). Throw in the fact that a host team has never lost its opening game in 19 tournaments, and it looks grim for Croatia.

Since finishing third in 1998, Croatia opened with losses in 2002 and 2006 (to Brazil) and exited in the first round. Its best scorer, Mario Mandzukic, is suspended and interesting will be fan reaction if Brazilian product Eduardo takes against his homeland.

Most eyes, of course, will be on Neymar as he makes his World Cup debut. But expect the Brazilians to also storm from back with Marcelo and Dani Alves.

Group A Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L GF/GA
0 Brazil 0-0-0 0/0
0 Cameroon 0-0-0 0/0
0 Croatia 0-0-0 0/0
0 Mexico 0-0-0 0/0



Friday ...

June 13 in Natal
Group A: Mexico vs. Cameroon
ESPN2, Univision/UDN noon ET
June 13 in Salvador
Group B: Spain vs. Netherlands
ESPN, Univision/UDN 3 p.m. ET
June 13 in Cuiaba
Group B: Chile vs. Australia
ESPN2, Univision/UDN 6 p.m. ET
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