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World Cup 2014 - Paulinho's preview

Posted on 12 June 2014  - 14:00

Paulinho has underlined the importance of Brazil's first two matches as the hosts kick-off the World Cup against Croatia tonight.

Paulinho, far right, all smiles in Brazil's training session in Sao Paulo on Wednesday nightPaulinho lines-up for Brazil's final pre-tournament friendly against Serbia

Years of preparation and weeks of anticipation finally come to fruition in Sao Paulo as the Arena de Sao Paulo raises the curtain with the opening ceremony ahead of a 9pm start (UK) against Croatia.

Group A also includes Cameroon and Mexico and Paulinho, expected to start and earn his 27th cap, feels Brazil's matches against Croatia and Mexico (Tuesday, June 17) are key. They then face Benoit Assou-Ekotto's Cameroon on Monday, June 23.

"It’s a very difficult first game against Croatia, who have many quality, experienced players," he said. "But I think it’s important for us to get off to a good start in the World Cup with a win.

"It’s a big game against Mexico, another great team with quality players. It’s practically a classico, a derby.

"Cameroon is a very powerful team. I think that everything will depend on our first two games. If we can win those first two games, then against Cameroon we should be able to control the game better. I think that will be important, as this is another difficult match for us.

"It’s a great source of pride to have the World Cup in my country, of course, and a huge goal for all of us."