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World Cup 2014 kicks off tonight

The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday as hosts Brazil open the tournament against Croatia.

The month-long tournament sees 32 nations compete for a place in the final in Rio on Sunday, 13 July.

The opening match will be preceded by a ceremony in Sao Paulo that pays tribute to nature, people and football.

Last year more than a million people took to the streets of major Brazilian cities to protest

Thousands of extra police and soldiers will be deployed to ensure the matches get under way smoothly.

Hosts Brazil start as favorites to win the World Cup for a sixth time, while holders Spain are aiming to win a fourth major tournament in a row after winning the European Championships two years ago.

The host nation have never lost their opening World Cup game, with the previous 20 opening games producing 14 victories and six draws for the hosts.

Scolari’s Brazil side will be expected to win in Sao Paulo on Thursday, in a match that kicks off at 00:00 Yerevan time.

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