The opening ceremony was tosh, blunders galore
Brazil apparently spent $9 million (£5.3m) on this shambles. Somebody suggested Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull must have soaked up $4.5 each because it didn't look overly obvious where the rest of the cash was spent. Did you spot the technical glitch that caused a problem with the riser that was supposed to bring the US pop stars up from beneath the stage? The elevator-like contraption paused, dipped, and resumed its journey upward at a slow, awkward pace, finally forcing Pitbull to step up a foot or so to exit. Afterwards, he extended a hand to help JLo onto the platform.
Eurosport’s Reda Maher attended the opening ceremony in Sao Paulo. "As soon as the curtain was raised, everything came together in a sometimes splendid and often bewildering exhibition of dance and colour to mark the showpiece of the showpiece, as it were," he wrote from the ground. Whatever. It didn't translate well to television. You couldn't hear any of the singers or the official World Cup anthem 'We Are One (Ole Ola)'. Perhaps no bad thing.
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Neymar is Brazil's best hope of winning this tournament
Whatever is made of a dreadful performance by the match official, you can't really detract from Neymar's contribution. Fair enough, he should have walked for the late elbow on Luka Modric, but he came up with two goals to lead Brazil away from a potentially damaging start to this tournament. At the age of 22, he has 33 goals from 50 matches playing for Brazil. That says it all.
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New tournament, same old grievances
The debate over the merits of television replays will not go away until they are finally introduced. Neymar's elbow and Fred's dive made sure that it took just one match of this latest festival of football before pundits the world over were beating their way down a well-trodden path. Vanishing spray and goalline technology are cool, but if FIFA genuinely want to make a change for the better, they'd do well to introduce TV replays for major, game-changing incidents.
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Lee Dixon would love a bromance with Fabio Cannavaro
Grown men salivating over each other is an acquired choice, but Dixon looks genuinely taken with Fabio Cannavaro's recruitment as an ITV pundit. Eight years on from lifting the World Cup as Italy captain, Cannavaro now has hair. And former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon likes it. He was drooling over the fashion sense of Italian men and women. And even recalled a time when he spotted Fabio in his underpants. Fabio knows where to go if he is looking for a neck rub after one of those sweaty punditry stints.
And ITV host Adrian Chiles is not exactly flavour of the month
Chiles said welcome to Rio when England were in Miami last week. Some folk expected him to say welcome to Miami before the opening ceremony. His style of presenting isn't sitting well with the former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, who apparently tweeted that he would rather listen to one of his brother Noel's records than Chiles. We don't think that is Liam Gallagher's account or know if he is even on Twitter, but it certainly sounded amusing enough.
I actually really like Adrian Chiles… said no one… ever. I’d rather listen to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds than listen to Chiles. LG
— Liam Gallagher (@IiamgaIlagher) June 12, 2014
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Big matches need referees from key nations
It might sound a touch off to suggest Japanese referees shouldn't be taking charges of vital matches, but we are going to go ahead and suggest that Japenese referees shouldn't be taking charge of vital matches. Whoever pencilled in Yuichi Nishimura for the opening game of the World Cup wants looking at. He failed to red card Neymar when the Brazil player should have walked before awarding the host nation a penalty when Fred clearly dived. He managed to swing the match in Brazil's favour. They would never have won 3-1 without his intervention.
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Nothing else matters for the next month
US Open golf, an England Test series, a couple of big rugby games on the other side of the world, Wimbledon... you can't help but feel sorry for other sports vying for the public's attention over the next four weeks. Brazil and Croatia brought the world to a standstill and if the opening match of the World Cup taught us anything, it was that football truly remains THE world game.
- Sports & Recreation
- Fabio Cannavaro
- Adrian Chiles
- Liam Gallagher