Brazil vs. Croatia
The first matchup to kick off the 2014 World Cup will be between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday.
Brazil enters this game as the heavy favorite for many reasons. One, they are the hosting the World Cup this year, which means it’s always going to give Brazil the home field advantage with thousands of screaming fans in their favor. Croatia also enters this game a little shorthanded, as its best striker in Mario Mandzukic will not be participating due to a red card he received in a qualifying match.
When you combine those two points and add the fact that Brazil was already the better and deeper team, Croatia simply isn’t expected by many to win this matchup.
However, the odds are simply insane in favor of Brazil. You can get Croatia anywhere from +900 to +1000 depending on where you look. That makes taking the Brazil moneyline an absolute no go. However, there is a ton of value at getting Croatia against the spread.
Even without Mandzukic, Croatia is a veteran soccer team that won’t fold under the bright lights of this massive event. Although they don’t have much World Cup success, many of these players have played in big moments and won’t be rattled whatsoever.
Croatia also has one of the top midfields in the tournament led by Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. That duo gives Croatia a fighting chance against anybody and makes them a dangerous team considering they’re really playing with house money when being matched up against the favorites to win it all.
Brazil is the better and deeper team, but Croatia counters that with experience and leadership, including veteran goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.
I think this game is going to be closer than expected and wouldn’t be surprised if Croatia is the team that scores first. That’s why I’m taking the visiting team and the point for the victory.
Croatia +1.5 (-125)