Brazil's Neymar (R) and Hernanes celebrate after Neymar scored a goal from a penalty kick during the 2014 World Cup opening match against Croatia at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, June 12, 2014.
Ivan Alvarado—Reuters
By Noah Rayman
June 12, 2014

Updated 6:00pm ET

The World Cup kicked off Thursday, with tournament favorite and host Brazil beating Croatia 3-1 in the opening game of the tournament.

The game followed a lavish opening ceremony featuring Jennifer Lopez, rapper Pitbull and Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte performing the official—and at times panned–song of the games, “We Are One.”

The competition has been marred by widespread protests across the country fueled by the tournament’s $11 billion price tag despite a trouble economy and high crime rates.

But on Thursday, some 1 billion people were estimated to be watching Brazil take on Croatia, kicking off the tournament of 31 nations. In total, 64 matches will be played in 12 stadiums across the country until July 13. The tournament begins with a group stage, and the top two leaders of each group advance to the knockout stage of four rounds.

The U.S. plays its first game on Monday at 6pm ET against Ghana. See the full World Cup schedule here.

And if you’re hoping to watch the day games from work, ESPN is streaming the matches online here ONLY for most paid cable subscribers. Alternatively, Univision Deportes is streaming matches from the tournament’s first two rounds, in Spanish (h/t Slate).

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