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Favor Brazil over Scotland in ’98 opener

SHARE Favor Brazil over Scotland in ’98 opener

Brazil makes a habit of winning World Cups. Scotland makes a habit of bowing out in the first round.

The experts expected nothing different from Wednesday's opener in France 98. The Brazilians, favored to win a fourth world soccer championship, were the overwhelming choice of nearly everyone to subdue the Scots."We have to lift ourselves to another level and show we can compete against Brazil," Scotland midfielder John Collins said. "We will need a superb performance, as well as in the other two games if we are to progress."

Scotland has been to seven previous World Cups with nothing to show for it. There were more Scottish fans on the streets of Paris in the past week than for any other team, save the hosts. Decked out in kilts and face paint, they made their presence known further by singing songs and waving flags, hoping this year would provide something different.

On Tuesday, police used tear gas to disperse soccer fans who threw beer bottles and tried to knock down a phalanx of policemen.

Police said 34 officers were injured by the bottle-throwing, including one who was in critical condition after being hit in the head with a beer bottle. Fifteen people were arrested during the outbreak.

In Italy, police arrested at least 20 people suspected of belonging to an Algerian terrorist group allegedly planning attacks during the World Cup. An anti-terrorist sweep over the past month has led to nearly 100 arrests in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

But it was the defending champion Brazilians who figured to do the celebrating after the first game of the biggest World Cup ever - 32 teams, including the United States, which begins play on Monday against Germany.

"We must understand this moment," Brazilian midfielder Leonardo said. "I want to make history."

A global television audience in excess of 37 billion will tune in to the most popular sporting event in the world. Wednesday, they got a doubleheader, with Norway taking on Morocco in a later game at Montpellier.