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Brazil v Croatia preview

Brazil open the World Cup on Thursday with star forward Neymar fit after an injury scare for the Group A game against Croatia, who are without the banned Mario Mandzukic.

The Barcelona man hurt his ankle in the warm-up win against Serbia but is expected to have recovered in time to feature in Sao Paulo, with the game kicking off at 9pm.

Fred will lead the line for the host nation, with support coming from Neymar, Oscar and Hulk as Luiz Felipe Scolari's men look to get off to a perfect start.

Croatia midfielder Ivan Mocinic will take no part in the World Cup and has been sent home after failing to recover from a recurring ankle injury with coach Niko Kovac calling up Milan Badelj as a replacement.

The uncapped Mocinic was a surprise inclusion in the squad at the expense of Badelj, who is himself nursing a groin strain.

Croatia will also be without influential frontman Mario Mandzukic, who is banned after his red card in the play-off game against Iceland back in November, with Hull striker Nikica Jelavic likely to get the nod in attack.

Defender Danijel Pranjic looks set to miss out after picking up an ankle injury in the warm-up win against Australia last weekend.

Sime Vrsaljko will deputise on the left flank in Sao Paulo, while Dejan Lovren should play alongside Vedran Corluka in the centre of defence as Josip Simunic has been banned from the World Cup and Gordon Schildenfeld is nursing a hamstring strain.