In the wake of the EURO 2012 tournament, and with the top European leagues like the English Premier League starting in less than a month, a lot of sports journalists have downplayed the importance of the Men’s Olympic Tournament in London that kicks off this Thursday, July 26th. But that won’t prevent us from getting excited for some of these matchups.
First off, fans should note that Spain is not the current favorite to win gold, but instead it’s Brazil. Spain’s roster features Juan Mata, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez, all fresh off the EURO Championship roster. Will they be burnt out? Probably not, and we love their tiki-taka style of play that frustrates and pierces even the best defenses.
Brazil’s roster features an impressive list of familiar names like captain Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Alexandre Pato, Hulk, and Neymar. Such an impressive list of players has them favored at about 3:2 to win the gold, while Spain is about 3:1 to win.
Argentina, who has won gold in the last two summer olympics (Beijing, 2008; Athens, 2004) did not qualify this year after losing to Uruguay in the qualifying tournament last February. Take a quick look over the groups for this year’s tournament:
While Spain & Brazil are the outright frontrunners in their groups, both group A and B feature a closer race into quarterfinals. We think Great Britain and Uruguay will advance out of Group A, while Switzerland and Mexico will prevail from group B. The second place teams from Groups C and D are a toss up: Belarus/Egypt are too close to call as are Japan/Morocco.
If we had to wager big, we have to put our money on a Brazil/Spain gold-medal match. Picking a bronze at this stage is just about impossible, but we’d bet on the dark horse Mexico over Luis Suarez’s Uruguay. Some have hosts Great Britain making it to the final stages of the tournament, claiming some advantage on their home turf. But after watching the EURO 2012, we think they need more time to gel before winning the big games when pressure is on.
We are especially excited for young players like Neymar and to shine on the international stage, and hopefully lead their teams to victory. Mexico midfielder Giovani Dos Santos has been a star on his National Team since he was a teenager and now at 23, he will be commanding the midfield to help his team into the semifinals. Last but surely not least is the recently signed Jordi Alba of Spain whose five-year contract with Barcelona is a good indicator of his potential. Fresh off the EURO 2012 winning roster, his defending will be a key in initiating the counter attacks from the Spaniards.