We're planning to put up a preview/match thread/discussion post each day, with the day's matches and any Villarreal connections (at least for the first time a team plays in this World Cup). Today is easy, since there is only one match!
Match: Brazil v Croatia, Group A, Sao Paolo.
Weather: 50% humidity, 75F roughly. It's Brazil.
Villarreal connections: None that I can think of. Nilmar is presumably sunning himself in Qatar, far away from the Brazilian national squad!
We have certainly played against many of these players--apart from the La Liga guys, Hulk killed us with Porto a few years back.
Quick preview: Apart from the writers at the Guardian in England, who seem to favor Argentina, Brazil is the consensus pick to hoist the Jules Rimet trophy at the end of the tournament. No one questions their ability, it's certainly their tournament to lose--but will the pressure of playing in front of their home supporters, and whatever distant memories of 1950 still exist, do them in?
Croatia are, as usual, somewhat of an unknown quantity; they haven't played that many friendlies in the buildup to this World Cup. They were in a tough group in the 2012 Euros and went out controversially, but World Cup qualifying wasn't easy for them and they scraped through via the playoffs, defeating Iceland.
Croatia are always fun to watch, with a great kit (hard to screw up the red and quite checkerboard) and two outstanding midfielders in Modric and Rakitic. But they might not have enough else this time round.
Prediction: After a slow start, Brazil to win 3-1.