England World Cup star Michael Owen is backing hosts Brazil to get off to a winning start in the tournament.
The former Three Lions striker said: “I’m not convinced this will be as one-sided as many are predicting but Brazil have won their opening game at the last eight World Cup tournaments and I expect they will make that nine come Thursday evening.
“In Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Seville’s Ivan Rakitic Croatia have two outstanding creative midfielders who played the best football of their lives last season in sides which won the Champions League and Europa League respectively.
“I think Croatia will qualify from the Group alongside the hosts but might struggle for goals and I expect Brazil to make a winning start and the 10/11 for the Selecao to lead at half-time and full-time is the recommendation with Fred at 22/5 nominated as the most likely first goalscorer.”
Brazil are 3/1 favourites with BetVictor to win the trophy for a sixth time while Argentina 7/2, Spain 13/2 and Germany 7/1.
England remain 28/1 at BetVictor to lift the trophy with Italy 25/1.