Former Spurs defender Corluka relishing World Cup opener

Croatia Football Team June 2013

Croatian defender Vedran Corluka has revealed that he is excited by the opportunity to play the hosts in the opening game of the World Cup.

The former Manchester City and Tottenham man claims that no side at the tournament would turn down the opportunity to face hosts Brazil in the curtain raiser on Thursday, and believes Croatia will thrive from the occassion.

Speaking to the 28-year-old explained that the prospect of playing the favourites in the first game of the World Cup has given his side "positive jitters".

"We play the opening match with the host and there is no team that would not want to change with us."

Croatia have been drawn in a tricky Group A alongside Brazil, Cameroon and Mexico but they will be confident of progressing through the group ahead of the tournament.

"There are always desires and expectations, but we need to be realistic and say that we are in a tough group and we have the same opportunities as Cameroon and Mexico to reach the second round.

"We have a team to do this and we can achieve it," Corluka added.

The defender made 119 appearances in the Premier League and now plays his football in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow, and he is a mainstay in the national side with 72 caps to his name.

He enjoyed a very good season with Lokomotive and enters the World Cup in fine form, and will need to be at his absolute best to stop the likes of Neymar, Samuel Eto'o and Javier Hernandez in their group fixtures.

  TeamPosAppsGoalsGoal AssistWon Tackle / appsAerial Won / appsOutfielder Block / appsMins
Vedran Corluka Lokomotiv Moscow DF 28 1 1 1.25 3.00 1.07 2520

Croatia are heading to their fourth World Cup after missing the last tournament in South Africa and come into the competition in good form.

They are unbeaten in their three friendlies prior to the opener against Brazil and have won their last two on the bounce.

They face Cameroon in their second game before facing Mexico in a tough group that will be closely contested throughout.

How far can Croatia go at the World Cup?

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