Nikica Jelavic believes that Croatia have what it takes to upset the host nation on the opening day of the World Cup, reports Sky
Hosts Brazil get the tournament underway today in Sao Paulo with most seeing them as strong favourites to make a winning start. However, opponents Croatia are not to be underestimated and will provide a stern test.
Striker Jelavic, who currently plays in England with Hull City, is hopeful that his team can pull off a major upset and spoil the opening party, and believes that all the pressure is on the home side.
Jelavic joined Hull in January, making the switch from Merseyside to Humberside as he found first team opportunities hard to come by at Everton. Success with the Tigers, including an FA Cup final appearance, helped cement his place in Croatia’s World Cup squad, and with fellow striker Mario Mandzukic suspended, he is a strong contender to start against Brazil.
Croatia have extra motivation going into this tournament having failed to qualify in 2010. Said Jelavic: “We are extremely motivated to do well at this World Cup as we were disappointed to miss out on South Africa four years ago. The players are all determined to make an impact in Brazil and make up for not being able to take part. The World Cup is the biggest stage in football and every player wants to be playing in these types of tournaments.”
Croatia also have World Cup history with Brazil. The teams faced each other in the group stages in 2006 with Brazil winning 1-0, a result which contributed to Croatia’s early exit.