It's finally here.
It's been a long four years since the World Cup made us cheer with glee and cry and scream with bitter disappoint, but on the 12th June 2014, it finally returned, to the overwhelming joy and excitement of every football fan on the planet.
But before the action started, we had to endure the opening ceremony and Adrian Chiles talking pure shight for over an hour. It wasn't all bad in that studio over looking the Copacabana beach however, for we got to hear World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro try and answer Chiles' bewildering questions and we got to marvel over World Cup winner Patrick Viera's perfectly spherical head.
The opening ceremony was a rather strange affair: there was a big, light up ball in the middle of the pitch and then a load of Ents on acid started strolling about, apparently representing Brazil's nature. Then to represent the vast diversity of people in Brazil, we were treated to a bunch of people who looked like they'd stumbled out of Wonderland and ended up in Sao Paulo. The last theme was football, duh, which had a load of performers with their heads horrifically trapped inside footballs and a bunch of kids displaying skills that I could only dream of.
Yes, I know the ball was tied to them.
Suddenly the ball became a chocolate orange and a Brazilian pop star elevated from the centre, soon followed by J-Lo??? Who ever that is, she was wearing a dress that was very appealing to the voyeuristic male gaze. She was joined by the world renowned Pit Bull.
I feel I would have preferred it if an actual Pit Bull was there instead, but we can't have everything. Thankfully, the excellent sound engineers made it so we hardly heard any of the three at all, so a big thank you to them.
An hour later and it was time: the teams were in the tunnel, the ball was on a plinth, the stadium was an ocean of yellow with ripples of red and white.It was here. The teams entered the fray to rousing cheers and sung their national anthems, Croatia were a mild 4/10, but Brazil, man, they broke the chart. Every player bellowing, tears in their eyes, they even carried on for an extra verse after the music had stopped. You could see the passion in their faces. They were up for it.
Before the match finally got underway, three doves were let free in the stadium, symbolising FIFA's commitment to world peace. Awww ain't that nice? Sadly however, one of the doves, according to reports, flew into a stand and died. Which is beautifully poetic, when you look at what's been revealed about FIFA in recent months.
At long last the 2014 World Cup began, and for the hosts, it did not start off as the millions of fans had dreamed, for at the 11 minute mark, they fell behind. A Hull City striker fluffed a shot which ended up wrong footing Marcelo, as he put the ball into his own goal past QPR's reserve 'keeper, for the first goal of the World Cup. Football, eh?
Croatia were well worth their early lead, and made it look like Brazil had underestimated them, almost further exploiting gaps in the Brazilian defence, mostly left by Dani Alves.
But it wouldn't stay that way for long as the game began to even out more and Brazil came into it. It was that Marmite of a man, Neymar, who dragged the host nation level. Some weak tackling in the centre of the park from Croatia led to Oscar being able to squeeze the ball through to Neymar, whose scuffed shot kissed the post as it went into the net.
More highlights of the first half included the World Cup debut of the vanishing spray, an excellent idea which really should be implemented in every big league around the world, and the appearance of the 4th official's somewhat massive electronic board.
We had to wait until the 71st minute to see another goal, when the referee made the outrageous call to award a penalty to Brazil after he judged Dejan Lovren to have tumbled over the anonymous Fred in the box. Replays would show that his decision was a stupid one, and not the first one he'd made that night, showing that the referee could not handle the immense pressure from the home crowd.
Neymar stepped up to take the spot kick, and after a stupid run up that he deserved to miss for, just managed to sneak his penalty past Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, who really should have saved Neymar's effort, but alas he palmed it into the net.
More decisions went against Croatia as they had a goal disallowed for absolutely nothing: Ivica Olić, jumped up and with Julio César, tried to win the ball in the air. He won the ball fairly and after Marcelo Brozović saw his effort blocked by David Luiz, Ivan Perešić put the ball into the net. But the whistle had already blown for a supposed foul on César, which was complete bollocks.
Croatia weren't deterred and continued in their search for an equaliser, but the final nail in the head came from the impressive Oscar. Yet another decision went against Croatia as Ramires took out Ivan Rakitić , on the half way line, the ball fell to Oscar who ran with it for thirty-odd yards before dispatching a lovely little toe-peck into the bottom corner. It was another goal that Pletikosa should have saved, but the Brazilians in the crowd, and I suspect the millions throughout the country, didn't care, as the party truly started.
Croatia can count themselves hard-done-by, as they were the victim of some horrendous decisions. But in truth, Brazil dominated large portions of the game and although a bit nervy at the back, deserved the victory.
Full Time: Brazil 3-1 Croatia
29 - Neymar 11 - Marcelo (OG)
71 - Neymar (P)
90 - Oscar
It was a great start to the tournament, lets hope it gets even better from here!
World Cup player pun of the day ('cause I'm a funny guy):