Football in Olympic Games 2020 is reaching the last four. The host is hoping to clinch their first gold but the challenge already lies ahead. The favourites and former gold medal winner Mexico and Spain plus the reigning champions Brasil are ready to snatch the opportunity here to win their second in history. At the semifinal next Tuesday, Take Kubo and Co will be facing off the 1992 gold medal winner, Spain which includes some of the key names in EURO 2020 such as Dani Olmo, Unai Simon, Pedri and Mikel Oyarzabal. Meanwhile, Selecao and El Sombrero are locking horns for one place in the final.
The Samurai Blue is the Asian’s next hope to meddle the domination of the elite teams from European and American continent for the race of gold medal. Tokyo 2020 is their best chance to clinch their first gold in football after their failure in 1968 and 2012 edition when they were beaten at the semifinal. Asia, alongside Oceania, are the only regions which have not won olympic gold medal in football. Africa did it twice in 1996 and 2000 while North America sealed one in 2012. Now, Hajime Moriyasu’s side has shown their quality on the pitch plus strong mentality to take up such challenge. Their squad is full of talents, young and senior ones, as well as experience in the severe competition. Take Kubo has spent his two-year spell in La Liga starting from Mallorca, Villareal and then Getafe last season. Ritsu Doan and Wataru Endo have tasted the Bundesliga rivalry with Arminia Biefeld and VFB Stuttgart, Takehiro Tomiyasu is the key man for Bologna in Serie A, not to mention the former Marseille man Hiroki Sakai and Maya Yoshida who has been playing in three major leagues, Eredivisie, English Premier League and now in Italian Serie A. Their Olympic campaign, especially during the group stage by thumping South Africa and Mexico and hammering France 4-0 should be an impressive display of their convincing squad although they were almost frustrated to break the deadlock against New Zealand at the quarter final but their mentality helped them do well at the shoot out.
La Furia Roja’s campaign here is quite similar to their senior in EURO last month. Mikel Oyarzabal and Co was struggling at the group stage and eventually could go through with only one win and two draws but showed their class while dismantling Ivory Coast 5-2, which was in a quite similar dramatic way to Luis Enrique’s men’s while eliminating Croatia in the round of 16. Being held in 90 minutes but then scored crucial goals during the extra time. Spain is under threat of fatigue, which could be an issue at the semi final later.
Brasil, on the other hand, had to struggle to get past Egypt by only 1-0 win at the quarter final. It is quite a declining form after smashing Germany 4-2 and crushing Saudi Arabia 3-1 with a goalless draw versus Ivory Coast in between. Dani Alves and Co must improve here if they are still on a mission to defend their gold.
El Sombrero is ready for bouncing back after the disappointing result in Rio 2016. Despite being beaten by Japan on matchday two, their attacking prowess shall be a threat for Selecao as they have scored fourteen goals so far, the highest of all contestant. Jaime Lozano’s side might still need to work on their backline as they have conceded six goals, also the worst among others. A 6-3 win in a thriller against South Korea at the quarter final was a solid proof of their strength and weakness. If Guillermo Ochoa and Co could be more solid at the defence line, they could be dangerous for any of their contenders, including Brasil and the host.
All in all, it is still difficult to see which side shall be squaring off in the final on Sunday. Yet, one thing for sure, the football in Olympic resembles more to the true world cup than Russia 2018 when Europe took all slots in the last four.