Neymar, Oscar lead Brazil to controversial comeback win over Croatia in World Cup opener

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Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

SAO PAULO — The party began for Brazilians early in the day, and likely will last long into the night.

Brazil opened the 2014 World Cup with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Croatia at Arena de Sao Paulo on Thursday night. Neymar scored on each side of halftime to give the Brazilians a lead after Marcelo scored an early own goal. Oscar added a late tally as the Croatians pushed forward in search of an equalizer.

Neymar’s 71st-minute winner in the entertaining tournament opener did not come without a bit of controversy. Croatian defender Dejan Lovren was called for a foul in the penalty area after Fred sold a bit of contact, and Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot that Neymar would score from to give Brazil the full three points.

Brazil now leads Group A, but Mexico and Cameroon will face off on Friday with a chance to pull level in the standings.

Amid festive scenes and a rowdy crowd of 62,103, Neymar helped Brazil erase a disappointing start when he found the back of the net with low shot in the 29th minute. He then became the night’s hero in the second half by breaking a 1-1 deadlock with a penalty kick that is likely to be discussed plenty given the foul that was called.

Brazil may have scored three unanswered goals to come out victorious, but they initially trailed after Marcelo accidentally poked a ball into his own net in the 11th minute. A cross from the left was nicked by Ivica Olic, and that slight touch caught Marcelo wrong-footed to put the hosts surprisingly behind.

Struggling to find clear chances despite dominating possession, Neymar sparked life into his side by netting just before the half-hour mark. Oscar slipped a pass to Neymar and the 22-year-old forward proceed to dribble upfield before hitting a classy cross-body finish from 20 yards out that stung off the bottom of the right post.

The equalizer injected excitement back into the stadium, but a superb showing from Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa kept the match level at halftime.

Croatia held tight defensively in the second half despite Brazil continuing to hold onto the ball for large stretches, but was undone after Lovren was deemed to have brought down Fred in the 69th minute. Pletikosa guessed right on the ensuing spot kick from Neymar and got a hand on the ball, but could not keep the hard shot from finding the back of the net.

Pushing numbers forward in search of an equalizer, it appeared as if Croatia had rescued a result in the 83rd minute when it found the back of the net. But Olic was called for a questionable foul on Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar prior to the goal and it was waved off as a result.

Frustrated but focused, the visitors continued to find space against Brazil’s defense until Oscar put the game to bed with a low finish to the near post. The midfielder — who also helped set up the dubious penalty kick — ran at Croatia’s back line on a counterattack and fired a right-footed shot that sneaked inside the near post in the 91st minute.

Brazil next hosts Mexico at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza on June 17 and Croatia will look to avoid a second straight defeat a day later when it plays Cameroon at Arena Amazonia in Manaus.

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What do you think of Brazil’s 3-1 win over Croatia? Think the penalty kick call was a soft one? Impressed by the Brazilians’ performance?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, International Soccer, World Cup 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

151 Responses to Neymar, Oscar lead Brazil to controversial comeback win over Croatia in World Cup opener

  1. CSD says:

    I was surprised the cheating started this early in the tournament by Brazil. Just go ahead and give Brazil the trophy.

    • Futbolisimo says:

      Japanese ref’s on the take!

    • Neruda says:

      Laughable PK. I thought the referee was doing ok before that call. That was a true dive not an embellishment.

      • Futbolisimo says:

        +1

        • Lava Lamp says:

          I was a bit suspicious early. The largest concentration of Japanese people outside of Japan is in Brazil. The head referee was Japanese.

          • ld says:

            So that proves it then…case closed…move along….

            • Mestizo & Proud says:

              what the f*ck do you want? an investigative inquiry by the European court of Justice which would inevitably prove nothing in the end?

              • Lava Lamp says:

                Sounds like a few Brazilian fans have been disturbed. If there is cheating involved, then it should be investigated.

              • Matt Novia says:

                How about a clean and honest game instead of a charade?

      • "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

        Not a dive! Definitely embellished. Defender pulls Fred by the left shoulder…he goes down like there was a shooter on the grassy knoll…if defender keeps hands to him self this situation never materializes.

        Watch the reverse angle replay

        Hands on shoulder and waist…Fred to the floor

        • Roy says:

          The defender took hands off and then Fred went down. Fred was obviously not pulled down. Fred just dropped himself to the ground.

          • Matt Novia says:

            Croatia lost the game, Brazil lost all sympathy. I’ll be cheering when they finally get booted out of this tournament.

            • caryn says:

              Attn: Matt Nokia- Sorry, my reply was to the ‘athlete’ who thinks real soccer involves no contact

        • caryn says:

          Umm.. and when was the last time you played? Get real!

    • JH says:

      That call was a disgrace. It is this kind of junk that makes you wonder if this whole thing is rigged. Nah, that could never happen…

      • Matt Novia says:

        It is sad to see how FIFA is rigged, from the bidding from the hosts, all the way down to the very first match.

    • USfan123 says:

      Brazil played very dirty and ugly at all times. They may get a trophy but get no respect. They won by cheating along with favorite treatment from Jap referee. Shame on both of them.

      • Matt Novia says:

        The whole world was watching and no one outside of Latin America is impressed.

        I hope the IOC pulled the Olympics from them like they’re threatening to.

        • caryn says:

          The IOC isn’t run by Sepp Blatter- while they’ve had their scandals, it’s never repetitive- unlike the poor officiating & obvious bribery exhibited by certain refs-
          No one is saying Croatia wold have won (although they obviously are the better team)- but lets be honest, Neymar deliberately elbowed Olic in the face & should have been redcarded therefore never having a shot on goal (or anywhere) and diving in the box is also redcard- good bye cheaters

    • RB says:

      I’ve tried on several occasions to become a soccer fan. I tried again yesterday; watched Brazil vs. Croatia. Fred’s dive changed the entire complexion of the game; rendering the “game” meaningless. From now on if I want to watch acting in the name of athletics I think I’ll try the WWF.

  2. The Other Jeff says:

    Brazil’s goals: two slow rollers that should have been easily stopped by the GK, and one PK through the GK’s hands, awarded to a blatant dive at that. In sum: Brazil a slightly better GK away from taking home zero points on the day. Dancing in the streets of Brazil.

    • usaalltheway says:

      You nailed it sir!

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Now, can we just get to the big games tomorrow and Saturday.

      • Pdid says:

        “Waves of attacks” by Brazil in the 2nd half? That wasn’t the game I recall seeing… 3-1 was a flattering score line. Croatia had nearly as much possessions and chances in the second half and had Brazil on their heels.

        • Pdid says:

          That comment was aimed at the article not the post. Which I agree with.

          • usaalltheway says:

            Okay…I was a little confused at first…I thought…”What the hell did I do? I thought we we were all pissed at the same thing!” hahaha

      • Fredo says:

        The Big Game is Monday.

    • JH says:

      That is right on. The Croatia goalie let his team down and could have/ should have stopped all three. I actually was getting excited to watch the Brazil games as the host nation, but after the dive and the penalty, that went away fast. I hope they lose now. If Brazil is so good, why do they have to dive? Act like men and play better next time.

  3. frank from santiago says:

    tournament opener did not come without a bit of controversy……understatement. we shoudn’t be surprised. it’ll only get more ridiculous as brazil gets deeper in the cup. BS.

  4. alf says:

    Was not a PK! Should have been a YC for diving! I hope they send that guy back to Japan tonight!

    • "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

      Totally a foul in the box. A foul in the box is a penalty.

      IF The defender keeps his hands to himself and plays FOOT-ball, THEN Fred has no reason to go down after being obstructed even if it was for the slightest of infractions.

      • seamus says:

        All due respects 2-step but that is totally, utterly wrong. Contact is allowed, fouls are not. No foul. No call. No yellow for diving in this circumstance. Blaming the defender for the ref’s wrong call because defender made contact is backwards. Some TV analyst or someone floated this idea that defenders “should not make the ref’s decision difficult” by touching the attacker. It’s hogwash.

    • caryn says:

      Diving in the box is red card, isn’t it?

  5. usaalltheway says:

    So, we all know this is fixed. Can we assume the USMNT gets screwed again this Cup?

    At any rate, who is looking forward to tomorrow’s game with Spain and Holland? And then Saturday’s game with England and Italy…those, at least, should be “real” games.

    • espada says:

      Looking forward to England-Italy… unless the pitch in Manaus hinders the game.

      • usaalltheway says:

        Me too man!!

        I heard during the board cast that there are in fact issues with the pitch.

        It is Brazil after all…

    • barkdog says:

      If the path for Brazil was getting fixed, the US wouldn’t worry about getting screwed, Germany and Portugal would.

      • Tim Riggins says:

        Naw they’ll play it slyer than that–the opponent doesn’t matter if the fix is in, and they know who to “persuade” to get the right result

    • Mestizo & Proud says:

      No way dude. Too much concentration of soccer in adverts aimed to reinforce the idea of getingt on the WC bandwagon by ABC. All this “I believe we can win s**t” is nothing angling towards a “Miracle on Ice” type story. And the aftermath is the NYFC, Miami, Orlando and all of MLS getting a bigger fan base for the money. Its cash in your chips time for the US

  6. Birgit Calhoun says:

    Seems to me this item could have been written yesterday and nothing would have changed the outcome. Since the Brazil team was not really doing it, the referee had to add his influence. It was embarrassing to watch the Brazilian team celebrate after their goals. Shameful!

  7. Relegate this says:

    It doesn’t mean a whole lot, but why not add the tackle that led to Oscar’s goal – how was that not a foul? And the ref was literally five feet away.

    • Sir coble says:

      Thank you! Even though Brazil played well enough to deserve a win, Croatia more than played well enough for the tie, and the ref played a part in the last 3 goals…all swinging in Brazil’s favor. Home field advantage at its best.

    • shockedandawed says:

      I was wondering why this wasn’t mentioned at all along with no clear replay. Anyone care to make a gif?

      • Increase says:

        Also here

        link to gfycat.com

        I looks like a foul to me mostly as he friggen cleans the Croatian player out even if he does get the ball. Right through the back and a nice jab of the elbow to back for a bonus.

        I think he gets the foot rather than the ball because ?Rakitic?
        plants his foot on the right side of the ball just before Ramieres gets there.

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          I dunno, Increase. Go to frame 50. It looks like Ramires’ foot may be in front of the ball, which easily would have caused Rakitic to fall over—no nasty elbow in the back needed.

          I don’t want to come across as a Brazil apologist. I think Croatia were robbed: a terrible penalty for Fred and a disallowed goal for nicking Julio Cesar. But I think this particular call may have been right. (I’m willing to be proven wrong with a different camera angle.)

    • seamus says:

      I was wondering about that myself. He seemed to do a half-flip but I could not see close enough to tell if the strip was clean.

  8. Big Larry says:

    Look, Brazil won 3-1. How about we move on to the next game. I can’t wait to see Italy beat England.

  9. Cabrito says:

    Because the WC is only every four years, we forget how bad the quality of play and officiating can be in this tournament. It only took the first game of this WC to remind us.

  10. JayAre says:

    Match fixers must have gotten to the ref.

  11. 5 Man says:

    I hate to say it but the Croatians got a raw deal. Horrendous calls – a false penalty and a goal called back. Score should have been 2-2.

    There is a stupid amount of money at stake in the WC. Always be asking yourself, “who benefits from maintaining the status quo?” Then these seemingly random referee calls against smaller football nations begin to make sense.

    • quozzel says:

      Well, for starters, Brazil benefits because their people are out celebrating instead of turning over cars and setting the city on fire. That’d be the first place I’d look…Brazil’s politicians made a billion tax dollars disappear, you think they’d balk for a second at spending a few million more to secure a result?

  12. bryan says:

    harsh result for Croatia. but i could easily see them beating Mexico and Cameroon.

    • usaalltheway says:

      Not with that keeper…good God was he BAD. That last goal should never have been.

      • notatallcynical says:

        he would have made those saves in a match that wasn’t fixed.

        • jefpal says:

          Why make the acrobatic save in the first half and get a good hand on the penalty then? No one would have blinked had he not reached either of those.

          There is no fix. Just the usual poor refereeing, falling for dives and giving the benefit of the doubt to the favored home team. This was a poor start to the Cup. Croatia deserved at least a draw. Let’s hope they go through anyway, the officiating gets better and that we don’t see this ref again.

        • shockedandawed says:

          Now we are getting ridiculous here.

      • Increase says:

        I check to see if he was their best keeper. It seems Croatia has Monoco’s Keeper. link to en.wikipedia.org

        I’m a bit confused as to why this other guy could have ever been seen as better… It seems that Stipe(the starter today) has 112 caps… I don’t see how he suddenly forgot how to play soccer….

        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Zocklo says:

        Looked like a backup MLS keeper…weak.

  13. Duke says:

    Brazil looked far less than a possible WC winner. Took a bad call to turn the game and at the end, Croatia had the better of the play.

    I used to like Neymar till they showed the replay of his yellow. He looked to see where the guy was then planted his elbow directly to his head. With a diff ref, could have been a straight red. Either way, that makes him a punk and he’s lost me as a fan.

    • danny says:

      Brazil did not look good controlling the center of the pitch, and hence the flow of the game. Of course they have a few amazing attacking player’s that can score out of nothing or a half-chance… but as a team, if they can’t control the middle of the pitch, I don’t see them going very far. It’d be interesting to see how a Michael Bradley/Jermaine Jones/Beckerman center would match up againsty Brazil’s. :-)

    • keithbabs79 says:

      You mean his highlight reel of flops on youtube didn’t do it for you?

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Hmmm, is worse to be a thug (Pepe) or a diver (Neymar)?

        There are those who burn and those who rot….

    • jefpal says:

      I don’t know, could have been a red, but yellow was probably OK. Don’t think the intent to injure or put Modric at risk was really there. It was a forearm that he used to make room for himself. It’s done over and over in these matches, he just raised it too high and caught Modric’s head instead of his shoulder. Why would he want to catch him in the head and risk a red? That would be silly. Don’t love the guy. His ‘brace’ is really nothing to be that proud of in this match. Sadly, that won’t be remembered in the long run. But I’m less worried about the red than the penalty dive (shameful), the ‘foul’ on Olic that cost Croatia the goal (too commonly called, with almost no contact) and the ignored foul at the center line that dispossessed Croatia in the lead-up to Oscar’s goal.

      • Skyman says:

        THIS

        +100

        Looking toward to tomorrow.

      • Edmondo says:

        In Latin America, diving does not have the negative connotation that if let has in some other parts of the world. It’s considered a part of the game to gain an advantage sometimes.

    • fair play says:

      Does the ref understand the rules. Croatia should have been playing against ten, Brazil would have been without there star the next few games, makes one wonder.

  14. quozzel says:

    Let’s also not forget that the Croatian midfielder was blatantly blown up from behind on the third goal, which allowed Oscar to take the turnover and dribble in….

    That match was bought and paid for the whole way, no way around it. Of course, given the political situation in Brazil, can you even imagine the shape the country would have been in tonight if the Brazilians had lost? Anarchy wouldn’t even begin to describe it…

    Absolutely disgraceful start to a tournament. If FIFA continues to allow (and get in bed with) this kind of conduct, you wonder if this organization is even going to exist a year from now.

    • Big Larry says:

      Why you so worked up?

      • quozzel says:

        Because what the heck is the point of watching something when the result has already been decided beforehand? Might as well watch WWF.

        Sporting results need to be fair, or THERE IS NO POINT IN PLAYING THE GAME.

        • quozzel says:

          …and yes, I’m shouting. :(

        • lol wwf says:

          lol wwf. was embarassing how players can dive like fred did on “the grand stage”.

        • "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

          WWF?

          The World Wildlife Federation is putting on sporting events?
          I got a grand on the Blk/Wht panda beating and mauling the Wht/Blk panda!

          WWE

          World Wrestling Entertainment

        • Roy says:

          I started the game supporting Brazil but switched to Croatia out of sympathy for them being screwed by the ref. It was really disappointing to see minor league officiating.

    • Matt C says:

      total agreement. not a good advertisement for the game…especially for casual viewers. And more ammo for the haters.

      I was reminded why i can’t stand Brazil.

    • Increase says:

      Ya, the non-call on the 3rd goal was silly as well. It was Ramires so we all know it was a foul without even thinking about it. That’s what Ramires does.

    • SydneySounder says:

      To be fair, the referee likely saved Marcelo’s life. So he’s not a completely bad guy.

      • Fred says:

        Absolutely agree

      • Deacon John says:

        What are you talking about? Are you talking about a repeat of the Colombian player who was shot two weeks after the cup ended, ostensibly because he made an “own” goal for the US team? If so, how would the referee’s action have avoided that? Do you mean that he only would have gotten shot if Brazil had lost?

    • Advocate says:

      Perhaps the ref was just incompetent and the Croatian keeper something less than world class. But, for those who prefer conspiracies to more simple explanations . . .

      • Anthony says:

        I know. I played and refereed soccer into my 20s. Sometimes referees miss calls. Sometimes crowds affect them. Secondly, they did not have a good international goalie or he just had a bad game. He honestly should have saved 2 of those goals. Bad referee day and bad day for the goalie. It happens. Not the first time at the cup (didn’t you watch South Africa 2010 or any world cup before that?), and certainly not the last.

    • Matty. C. says:

      I can’t believe nobody said anything about the third goal that foul from behind.
      I checked most news sources…how that is not a foul and Brazil’s second goal was remains a mystery to me…
      They really need a video referee like with rugby and rugby league to confirm the big calls.
      It’s the only way to keep everyone happy and ensure the right call is made.
      Bloody FIFA need to catch up with the times.

  15. Eric120 says:

    I was generally unimpressed with both teams, and that penalty call was a joke. Unless Brazil shows a significant improvement, they are not going to win the cup, despite all the help they’ll likely get from FIFA.

    • notatallcynical says:

      I think they got help from Croatia as well as the ref and FIFA. If nobody else, then at least the Croatian goalkeeper’s performance is very suspect.

    • chuck says:

      They don’t need to improve, the cup’s being handed to them anyway. Might as well do it now and save us a month of watching thievery

  16. BrianK says:

    The 11 million poor bastards I the favelas are happy. That is all that matters.

  17. Gus says:

    I was seriously bummed watching this game. Every non call, flop, dive and fake injury all I could think about was all the ammunition it was giving to the “that’s why Americans hate soccer” crowd.

  18. Ivan says:

    The porno started really early.

    At least in 2002, the prostitutes showed up for South Korea in the 1/8 and 1/4 finals.

    This is disgusting.

    This referee should spend 7-10 years in jail. Literally.

    Disgusted. Shocked, revolted, appalled, disillusioned.

    The charade “Brazil must win the World Cup” has begun.

    That’s ok. God will punish them. They will cry in 1/4 or 1/2 final.

  19. Brad says:

    I hate Alexi Lalas, his analysis and humor is a bit asinine. That being said the Croatian goalie and Brazilian I mean FIFA ref were almost useless. On the other hand Croatian players never scored a goal and that was definitely a foul on Julio Cesar. If only Manzudic was playing it might have been a little more fun!

    • Sir coble says:

      I disagree, it seemed to me that the player went up ( pencil diving style) with only his body shielding, which is less than you would expect for a typical forward vs. defender call. I don’t believe this is an example of ” FIFA conspiracy” but more a reflection of keeper protection called wrong.

      • seamus says:

        Disagree. In the 6-yard box, a bump that causes a keeper to flub a catch should be called. There was clear contact and that’s why he lost the ball. Nothing egregious, but enough. Good call.

        • seamus says:

          Just to clarify, there’s no rule re: goal area (6-yard) but in a situation like this where keeper goes up and his hit a foul is the right call.

        • Advocate says:

          I just re-read Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) and see little to suggest that incidental contact with a goal-keeper in the six-yard box, by a player going for the ball (and not the keeper) should be considered a foul. Law 12 doesn’t say anything about “bumps,” “clear contact,” “flub[bing] a catch” or losing the ball. Of course, it would be a foul if the player has “jumped” or “charged” the keeper, but, even then, its a foul only if he does so in a manner viewed as “careless” or “reckless” or involving “excessive force.” There was nothing careless, reckless or excessive about the play. In the circumstances, I think it was the keeper’s job to hold onto the ball against the risk (and the fact) of fair incidental contact. When he failed to do so, the resulting goal should have been allowed.

          • seamus says:

            I agree with your first part, re goal area, which is why I clarified it, and obviously I’m not using FIFA legalese in the comment section of the blog. You won’t find “flub” in the Laws of the Game I don’t think. Which is too bad.

            I disagree with the second. Contact was not incidental, Olic was angling in on his jump. If that happens anywhere else on the field it’s a foul, though not always called for practical reasons unless advantage is gained, as it was here. That said, Julio Cesar didn’t exactly distinguish himself there or elsewhere yesterday. If I am Mexico or Cameroon I shoot every chance I get.

            • Advocate says:

              I resorted to the legalese because those are the standards the ref is supposed to apply. Regarding the contact, I guess we just saw if differently — which happens. If you’re right that Olic’s contact with the keeper was directed at the keeper and not incidental to his going for the ball, your argument has some strength, although I would still question whether the contact was enough for a foul. For me, the mere fact of contact and that the keeper wasn’t able to hold the ball is not enough.

  20. BrianK says:

    FIFA should hold the trophy ceremony tomorrow in the São Paulo favelas and crown Brazil world champions,…maybe they can hire the North Korea PR department or Jay Carney to spin the “great news.” Then,…they can continue the tournament for everyone else and see who comes in second.

    Kind of reminds me of USA politics,…maybe we should just tell Obama to move on,….build him a library, tell him how great he is (?) and then appoint Hillary Clinton President,…get it over with, check the box and then focus on electing someone who is capable of being President and leading the nation.

    • Roy says:

      You had me with you until you got into American politics. There have been two Bushes compared to one Clinton in office, and the second Clinton may face a third Bush. So, are you sure you want to use the Clintons as an example of being automatically chosen? (And I’m for neither of them.)

      So back to the beautiful game turned to the con game.

  21. Larry says:

    Well, that was a pretty sucky game, to say the least. I really really hope it is not a predictor of the rest of the WC. I have come to despise the Brazil team, I’m afraid. Long gone is the beautiful game. Nobody should be deceived anymore.

    • Eric120 says:

      The sad thing is FIFA is going to do their damnedest to keep them in the tournament.

      • Sir coble says:

        As was evidenced from their confederations cup run. Watch Brazil v Spain for last year and you will see this type of Brazilian blindfold was/is already in place.

  22. SIR_KNOX says:

    Wow the negativity on here is thick with over reactors! Dry your tears people and hug your closest friends. This was a poor showing by Brazil, the Ref, and Croatia as well. Neymar created a good goal on his own. The penalty shot was actually a good one as well, even if the ref was deceived. Croatia got a bit of what the USA gets in every World Cup. It happens. You have to win by putting the ball in the net uncontested and fully on – side. Just the way it is when you’re outside the top 5
    Brazil will play much better as the WC goes on. And the refs will continue to make mistakes. Hopefully not in the US games but it’s a good bet they will throughout all the games. It’s part of the game. If it wasn’t we would would stop play every 12 seconds to consult the replay and then cut to a truck commercial.

  23. Norn Iron says:

    Really an underwhelming performance by Brazil. They were gifted a penalty kick by the Japanese referee on a disgraceful dive by Fred, and Neymar’s and Oscar’s goals were certainly not stellar. Croatia often exposed a Brazilian defense that pushed too far forward. Brazil would have lost had they been playing a Germany, or Spain.

  24. 1776croatswede says:

    The penalty was absolute rubbish, Croatia should have won or tied.

  25. YouGoddaBeKiddinMe says:

    We waited four years for this? The winning goal on a joke PK?

  26. jb says:

    I only saw parts of the game, but when I was watching Croatia played well and went toe to toe with Brazil. I was quite impressed with Croatia. Saw a replay of the PK and it definitely looked like a bad call. And if what I read about a Croatia goal being waved off after another bad call is true, then that is really unfortunate. But seriously, the conspiracy theorists need to chill out. This is sports, and bad calls happen. Unfortunately in soccer, bad calls can change outcomes.

  27. Soundersfan says:

    So today was the last friendly right? World Cup stars tomorrow. Can’t wait to see Mexico lose to Cameroon, Spain will win as well, and Australia will lose, should be fun. I hear there will be no referees and it will be the players calling their own fouls.

  28. martin says:

    red card not given – ref either didn’t have the guts or was paid
    Penalty – such a bad decision that it was a joke
    Disallowed Goal – Nonsense, two mistakes then check the refs bank balance
    Third gousl – lets ignore the brazil foul that led to the game

    If I had been the Croatian coach i would have taken my players off the pitch, the game was decided before the ball was kicked

  29. Tom says:

    Played football all my life. Am a Yank living abroad. Watch the EPL weekly. Love love love the beautiful game. Love love love the WC…

    BUT… I have come to the view that in the professional game… AND especially in the matches of the WC — it is absolutely ridiculous NOT to use video replays for situations where big calls (PKs, hard fouls, etc.) need to be made.

    On a side, yes… I am glad that FIFA has implemented goal line technology for this WC; it is overdue and will (hopefully) eliminate some of the disgraceful situations (such as Lampard’s disallowed goal in versus GER in 2010)… BUT why not use video replay technology to help referees make the RIGHT call in other key situations as well? Delays to review the video would not be an issue… Communication (with a group of officials instantly reviewing video of an incident) would not be an issue… And in matters where the referee NEEDS to make a tough decision in a flash (especially if their positioning is not optimal…), use the technology to make the RIGHT call.

    And… if the WHOLE world can see it re-broadcast over and over via the networks, why shouldn’t the game use this same (instant replay) technology as well?

    In my view, it would enhance the credibility of the game and avoid levels of cynicism that are – quite naturally – a response to referee’s mistakes…

    • Eric120 says:

      While I agree with some of your points, I disagree that video replays would be a solution. That would totally change the game, in a negative way, in my view. Soccer is NOT (American) football.

      Unfortunately, there is no easy solution.

    • Eric120 says:

      Just to expand on my earlier comments–American football has natural breaks, which allow for video replays. Soccer does not. That is why (hopefully) you don’t have commercial breaks while each half is played. Soccer needs to be played almost continuously, with no breaks except for injuries or substitutions, or it becomes a completely different game.

      • Increase says:

        Dude, Soccer has a natural break everytime someone gets “hurt” and then everyone stands around for 3 minutes. You don’t have time to check the tape then?

        Or hey on a goal, it takes time to restart. Check it for offside.

        Isn’t time for everything, there is time for some.

        • Eric120 says:

          Dude,

          I’m aware there are breaks in soccer. But they aren’t after every play. You really don’t see the difference with American football? Are you really going to stop play after every questionable play, and, if so, who is going to decide to do so? One of the teams is surely going to object to the stoppage of the game. Who is going to decide is the stoppage makes sense?

          No, this does not make any sense for soccer.

        • Tom says:

          Hi Eric120,

          Thanks for your comments. I live in Hong Kong and see plenty of the Union Rugby, which is, more or less, a free-flowing game like our beloved soccer. However, the officials do an excellent job of using video replay for important (i.e., potential controversial) situations.

          The key to the implementation, I believe, is using it during “key/important/controversial” moments. You might be aware, thus, apologies for being overly detailed, but the officials in Union Rugby wear an ear-phone communication device. A separate “team” of referees monitor the video replay and can offer simultaneous feedback when controversial/difficult-to-call moments occur.

          In the case of the BRZ vs. CRO game, my view is that it would have been better — and certainly more fair — to make the right call than have a horrendous call made. The penalty had huge ramifications for the match and I just don’t think it was right. While a die-hard fan of the Selecao might argue with me, most commentators seemed to agree that good ol’ Fred went down a little too easy under the lightest of contact from the Croatian defender, Lovren, and was “pleading” for a penalty even before hitting the ground. My view is that an experienced refereeing crew would be able to assist the head official in making the right decision. Clearly, play was stopped anyway as the referee was awarding a penalty and the Croatian players let their grievances be known. A 3 to 8 second review of the video evidence would not have disrupted the flow of the game, but would have likely led to an overturning of the call and a pretty shade of yellow for our dear simulation-expert, Fred.

          Anyway, I share your concerns about disruption to the flow of the game, but I come to a different conclusion that it wouldn’t materially jeopardize this aspect of the beautiful game and that the “positive” of making the right call (in near real time) is better than the alternative… (again no disrespect intended to the faithful supporters of the Selecao who saw a clear penalty in yesterday’s game). :-)

          Anyway, I have been impressed by Union Rugby’s utilization of replays at little disruption to the flow of the game and think that it would be good for the Beautiful Game as well.

          Best,

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            Tom, those are the most intelligent and informative comments I’ve heard on the subject. Thanks.

  30. Ah says:

    Modric was fantastic and deserved man of the match if not for horrible ref and awful goalkeeping. I feel for Croatia here.

  31. Glyn Rowland says:

    Thank goodness it`s the rugby world cup next year, at least they don`t have to be stretchered off if they damage an eyelash

  32. Tom says:

    Hi Eric120,

    Thanks for your comments. I live in Hong Kong and see plenty of the Union Rugby, which is, more or less, a free-flowing game like our beloved soccer. However, the officials do an excellent job of using video replay for important (i.e., potential controversial) situations.

    The key to the implementation, I believe, is using it during “key/important/controversial” moments. You might be aware, thus, apologies for being overly detailed, but the officials in Union Rugby wear an ear-phone communication device. A separate “team” of referees monitor the video replay and can offer simultaneous feedback when controversial/difficult-to-call moments occur.

    In the case of the BRZ vs. CRO game, my view is that it would have been better — and certainly more fair — to make the right call than have a horrendous call made. The penalty had huge ramifications for the match and I just don’t think it was right. While a die-hard fan of the Selecao might argue with me, most commentators seemed to agree that good ol’ Fred went down a little too easy under the lightest of contact from the Croatian defender, Lovren, and was “pleading” for a penalty even before hitting the ground. My view is that an experienced refereeing crew would be able to assist the head official in making the right decision. Clearly, play was stopped anyway as the referee was awarding a penalty and the Croatian players let their grievances be known. A 3 to 8 second review of the video evidence would not have disrupted the flow of the game, but would have likely led to an overturning of the call and a pretty shade of yellow for our dear simulation-expert, Fred.

    Anyway, I share your concerns about disruption to the flow of the game, but I come to a different conclusion that it wouldn’t materially jeopardize this aspect of the beautiful game and that the “positive” of making the right call (in near real time) is better than the alternative… (again no disrespect intended to the faithful supporters of the Selecao who saw a clear penalty in yesterday’s game). :-)

    Anyway, I have been impressed by Union Rugby’s utilization of replays at little disruption to the flow of the game and think that it would be good for the Beautiful Game as well.

  33. Pila says:

    Clearly we all forgot during the past four years that shaky calls and WTF moments are as much a part of the World Cup as the trophy itself. And what’s with the spray can of white stuff the ref was using to mark the distance for free kicks? That was a new, but useful, twist on the game. Must have been shaving cream to dissolve so quickly. To what ends would FIFA go to make sure Brazil has a successful Cup, given the protesters in the streets, etc? Just asking. But it won’t work. The green-and-yellow will not hoist the Cup. (I know. I am so naïve.)

  34. fair play says:

    If the ref had called for a tv decision at the elbow incident the players would calm down.

  35. DGH says:

    Nothing for nothing, but I’d trade Germany, Portugal or Ghana for Brazil, easily.

  36. The Garrincha says:

    Wow!, Brazil a plus 2 on the the bad calls,
    Agree with just about everybody in the world about the BS,
    A truly gifted and soft penalty,
    also the play regarding Olic’s header where the keeper encroached on Oli’s airspace,
    taking away a goal by the Croatians.
    Embarrassing and shameful for FIFA/WC/Brazil.
    They really do need some sort of video replay/review on all PK, Yellow/Red cards,
    however a few people also brought up the infamous 02 WC,
    Torsten Frings, hand ball on the goal line.
    I guess the question here is would goal line technology have been able to correct that mistake?.
    in that incident it was clear the ball did not fully cross the line,
    however it would have been equally obvious upon review that Fringers intentional hand ball prevented the ball from crossing the goal line. what do they do then?,
    say no goal when it was an obvious handball directly preventing a goal,
    but we cannot review that aspect of the play only whether the ball crossed the line or not.
    Come on FIFA, please fix this now.

    P.S. Forewarning to FIFA, and all Refs, (Columbia is next door),
    who are going to try to screw The U.S,(as they have several times in the past), and other teams as well as the viewership and fans from having a truly good, honest, and beautiful game to watch.

  37. Brain Guy says:

    This is not about corruption. It’s about a virulent combination of incompetence and bias. When it comes down to the big team versus the smaller team, the big team is going to get the breaks because, well, if it doesn’t, and the smaller team wins, the ref has some explaining to do because he “affected the outcome.” Bad refs from small leagues are always going to play it safe.

  38. Brain Guy says:

    I was listening to Mike and Mikw on ESPN this morning and they actually talked about the game for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately, but predictably, they focused on Fred’s five and the awful call. Until and unless the rule makers take bold steps to root this stuff out of the game – how about ejections or even suspensions based on post-march videos? – the lucrative American mainstream market will remain out of reach. If you played association football word association (clever, eh?), for “soccer” a great many Americans would respond with “dive” or “flop.” Diving is the steroid problem of soccer.

    • Matt Novia says:

      Americans were watching the first game of the World Cup and it only confirmed everything they had heard about soccer: corrupt, fixed, and full of acting instead of playing. You had a team like Croatia which were playing their hearts out only to be screwed by a crooked ref. This isn’t converting anybody to “the beautiful game”. FIFA needs to go.

  39. Matt Novia says:

    What does FIFA have against Croatia? First pulling their best player because they started a cheer for their homeland and said that it was neo-fascist, and then this?

    Are they scared a little team could take down the giants that bring in so much revenue? How crooked is this organization?

  40. gavanb says:

    If Brazilians want to win like that, I feel sorry for them..