World Cup 2014 kicked off today and for the next four weeks the eyes of the world will all be looking toward Brazil. It is the largest sporting event of the year and the US is lacking coverage. Those who wanted to watch the Opening Ceremony had to do so on Spanish television, not that the English speaking audience missed much.
Like any global sporting contest held every four years, the Opening Ceremony was an eclectic display of the host country's culture. Brazil really knows how to throw a party, each year they host the world's largest Carnival/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday celebration. However, this amazing display of colorful, rhythmic, eccentric celebration did not parlay into the World Cup Opening Ceremony. There was a beautiful, artistic show to open the games that ended with internationally famous musicians Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez, but the US audience did not see anything that was on caliber with Carnival.
If the singing of the national anthems gives us any insight as to how the players were feeling at the start of the match, the Croatians were calm and the Brazilians were nervous. The ferver with which the Brazilian national anthem was sung had enough energy to make it halfway across the world. The players and fans in the Sao Paulo stadium were so enthusiastic, they sang an impromptu encore of their anthem accapella. The thunderous volume with which they sang was enough to make the players bounce with excitement.
The match took a surprizing turn just five minutes into play when an excellent run and cross from Croatia ended in a Brazilian own goal setting the home team back 0-1. That seemed to shake some urgency into the Brazilian players who were able to bounce back and even the score before a full half hour had passed. Both Brazil and Croatia played very well. Brazil seemed to control more of the game, but Croatia took advantages of breakaways at every chance they could. Both sides played a very conservative beginning of the second half. Both teams looked as though they would be happy with a draw. An extremely questionable penalty in the second half put Brazil ahead 2-1. Croatia did put up an enthusiastic fight and even found the back of the net in another questionable call in which the ref whistled the play dead so the goal did not count. As time was running out, Brazil managed to score one more goal before the final whistle. The match ended 3-1.
With one game down and dozens more to go in the coming month, World Cup 2014 is under way.