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How big is World Cup home advantage?
As the World Cup (finally) kicks off, there is a very good reason most pundits are picking Brazil as favourites and it's not just because of their heritage as a world beating team. It's home advantage.
Statistically speaking, playing a World Cup in your own nation ups your win percentage by a massive 22%, which when you're a team like Brazil is pretty bloody huge considering their already impressive stats.
The only team that have performed better at a World Cup on foreign soil is Spain, who managed to win 20% of their games when they hosted in 1982 and a massive 56% in subsequent cups.
Which also means that the current champions are in a great position to take the Cup home yet again.
What to expect from tonights game
Brazil (and the rest of us) will be hoping for a spectacular start, but World Cup opening games are always nervy and edgy. Eight of the last 12 have produced one goal or less.
On top of that, Croatia might not be the walkover some are predicting. Of the 32 teams in Brazil, Croatia have conceded the fewest goals per game at World Cups - just 0.85.
More home advantage: the host nation has never lost their opening World Cup game. The 20 previous hosts have won 14 and drawn six.
It could get tasty
If it does all start to unravel for Croatia, their frustration could get the better of them. Their last nine World Cup games have produced six red cards.
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