It's show time in Brazil and the journey to Rio is finally over! The 2014 Fifa World Cup begins on Thursday with hosts Brazil playing the tournament opener against Croatia.
The month-long tournament sees 32 nations compete for a place in the final in Rio on Sunday, 13 July.
The journey hasn`t been an easy one with construction and stadium delays that threatened to take some shine off. In the bigger picture lies the ongoing protests in major cities against the excessive spendings for the event amidst financial and employment crunch. But overall Brazil will hope to put all the hardships behind and will look to kick off with the event in style and what more than starting off with a victory.
The opening match will be preceded by a ceremony in Sao Paulo that pays tribute to nature, people and football. Like the Olympic Games, this international event cannot begin without fanfare. As host, Brazil has planned an extraordinary show that will remind onlookers of the nation itself.
There will be dancers, musicians, gymnasts, trampolines and more as the participants attempt to portray a story while also creating a feast for the eyes.
With months of preparation going into a 25-minute extravaganza, fans should expect quite a show. While the main show will feature many unrecognisable acts, it will end with a performance by some of the world`s biggest stars.
Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian artist Claudia Leitte will come together to perform their new collaborative hit entitled "We Are One (Ole Ola)".
Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari had stated on Wednesday that they are ready for the event and are together for the mega event.
"Let me tell you the time has arrived. We are going together. This is our World Cup," said Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari on Wednesday.
Unity is what is required and the most successfull footballing nation needs to come together and light up the scenario for the whole world to see.
The host country`s government is keen to prevent a repeat of some of the violence seen at the recent protests, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said that she will not allow violent demonstrations to mar the World Cup. Thousands of extra police and soldiers will be deployed to ensure the matches get underway smoothly.
Hosts Brazil start as favourites 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.
A capacity 65,000 crowd is expected for the opening match, with their journey to the stadium eased after Metro workers vowed not to resume a strike.