2012 Olympics

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Brazil Must Become a Team to Win 2014 World Cup after Olympic defeat to Mexico

Brazil was stunned to lose the Olympic final against Mexico. All tournament long they had comfortably defeated opponents and featured a host of stars like Neymar and Hulk.  The road was paved for Brazil to win their first Olympic gold medal, but reality struck hard when the players decided to play like individuals and not as a team.

The style of play was evident throughout the game but started when Peralta of Mexico scored a brilliant goal just 30 seconds into the match.  The goal completely deflated Brazil and they never recovered.  Everyone took it upon himself to be the hero, and no one was really able to manage the feat.

Hulk was brought on after half an hour and began to show some nifty moves, but the selfish spell overtook him too, as he repeatedly got ahold of the ball and managed only to wiggle his left foot a few times before kicking a ball off a defender or losing possession.  He had a nasty long range shot in the first half but Mexico’s goalie, Jose de Jesus Corona, was able to save.

Similar things happened in the second half as Neymar also took to taking speculative heroic efforts that missed the target.  This wasn’t the “Joga Bonito” we expected from a nation like Brazil, who are supposed to pass the ball into the net with flair and ease. This was desperate schoolboys trying to do it all by themselves.

I attribute much of this problem to all the transfer news and stories surrounding the players.  Oscar is a striker who performed well in the tournament and just secured a big money move to Chelsea of the EPL.  Midfielder Lucas Moura had been courted by Manchester United throughout the Olympics, but apparently changed his mind last week and opted for a mega-move to PSG, the big spenders of French Ligue1.  His move was announced just three days before the gold medal match.

Similarly, Hulk and Neymar have been rumored all summer long to be headed to major clubs the likes of Real Madrid.  With players’ minds elsewhere, is it any wonder that they couldn’t come together in the final?  All these 20 year olds think they are the greatest things ever after earning these massive transfers, so naturally they all tried to be the hero, and naturally the team suffered and they lost the game.

So where does the team look to for hope of winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?  Most of these players mentioned will likely be in the full adult squad, and will need to be on their best for the tournament.  Pressure will be immense for the team to succeed.  Throw in the likes of Spain and Argentina’s Lionel Messi in his prime, Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal, and Brazil might just implode at the World Cup.  This nation needs a serious reality check, and the defeat to Mexico will have provided just that.  Clearly Brazil has the talent to succeed, they just need to come together as a real team if they expect to win a trophy of real significance like the World Cup.

Senegal has Crashed the Olympic Party

Senegal is in their first ever Olympics appearance, and they look to be taking full advantage of the opportunity.  Through two group matches, they have drawn Great Britain and defeated Uruguay, showing the world that they are ready to contend for a medal.

Not long ago when the Olympic soccer squads were announced, Senegal looked a team destined for failure.  While serious medal contenders had called up mega-stars like Neymar, Ryan Giggs, Luis Suarez, and Juan Mata, the African nation had been denied the services of both Demba Ba and Papisse Cisse.

The players had phenomenal seasons debuting for Newcastle of the EPL, but manager Alan Pardew denied them the honor of representing their country at the Olympics.

Surprisingly, the team has played wonderfully without them.  Striker Moussa Konate looks to be both instinctive and deadly.  He scored a brave equalizer to earn a draw with Great Britain in the opening match, and he scored twice against Uruguay from corner kicks.  On the first he poked a loose ball through into the net, and on the second he beat his marker and headed in a goal.

The striker everyone had expected to succeed, Ibrahima Balde, hasn’t found the back of the net yet.  If he can start making an impact, the Olympics could very well be the coming out party for Senegal.  Considering the two strikers left home, Senegal could be well on their way to taking over African soccer in the near future.

The team is also finding success through brutal tactics that involve heavy tackles and frustrating their opponents.  They drew a plethora of complaints from the British team for their tactics, and may well have earned several red cards during the game, but good fortune enabled them to evade trouble and allowed them to scrape a draw.

During the second match facing Uruguay, their intensity was again on display but they were punished this time as Abdoulaye Ba was sent off for dragging down Luis Suarez, who was charging free towards the goal.  Incredibly, the team performed fine after the sending off and strolled to a 2-0 victory.

Although Senegal is not making any new friends during this tournament, I feel that it is hardly their aim.  They are in their first ever Olympics and look like a team that is really going for it and trying to win.

Clearly their physical style is getting into the heads of the opposition and has opened an opportunity for an upset in the group stage.  Facing their last group match on Wednesday against the United Arab Emirates, this team only needs a draw to progress and has their destiny in their own hands, while tournament favorites Uruguay and Great Britain will battle for survival.  Let’s just hope Senegal can avoid another sending off as we enter the defining moments of the Olympics.

Olympic Soccer to Showcase New Talent

The 2012 Olympics are set to begin soon in Great Britain and will provide an excellent opportunity to watch the stars of tomorrow on a major stage.  The predominantly U-23 setup allows for a vast array of young players to represent their country and catch the eye of scouts worldwide.

The Great Britain team is loaded with youngsters that already play on Premier League teams such as Aaron Ramsey, Tom Cleverly, and Daniel Sturridge.  Led by veteran Ryan Giggs, the team will be looking to win a gold medal on their home soil.  With such as exciting array of young players already featuring at major clubs, Britain will like their chances and should do very well.

Brazil are many odds-makers favorites to win the gold medal.  With soon to be superstars like Neymar, Rafael, and Hulk, who would doubt them?  The team also houses a solid group of veteran players such as Marcelo of Real Madrid, and Thiago Silva of AC Milan.  The Brazilians have never won Olympic gold, though they did earn silver in 2008 and are always candidates to succeed in big tournaments.

Mexico will be contenders as well and have a solid group of youngsters waiting to explode on the international scene.  Comprised mostly of Mexican league players, they boast stars like Marco Fabian, who has impressed with Chivas and has scored many goals during Olympic qualifications.  Also, Giovani dos Santos will be present.  Although he has found few opportunities at Tottenham, the forward is an amazing trickster who would love to prove himself at this competition.

Spain should also be considered as a favorite.  The senior team has won countless trophies but their U-23 side has shown that this dominance is likely to continue.  The team will feature EURO 2012 hero Jordi Alba, as well as a few other Barcelona youth players like Cristian Tello and Oriol Romeu, who now plays for Chelsea.  Their goalkeeper, David de Gea, starts for Manchester United and has a bright future as well.

Uruguay could also be well poised to place strongly in the Olympics.  Led by Luis Suarez, the nation bolsters defender Sebastian Coates and a group of players from Italy’s Serie A in Gaston Ramirez, Edinson Cavani, Arevalo Rios, and Abel Hernandez.  Uruguay reached the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup and won the 2011 Copa America so their fans will have high expectations entering the Olympics.

Another player worth watching will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon.  The young striker had a superb 2012 African Cup of Nations leading his side with three goals to the quarterfinals.  He has also played well for his French team Saint-Etienne.  The 2012 Olympics could be his coming out party.

Many fantastic players start off as no-names until an event like the Olympics comes about.  The soccer world is soon to be introduced to a new group of stars, many of whom are set to embark on fantastic careers.  Although the tournament doesn’t hold quite the names as the EURO tournament did, it will still provide an excellent grounds for dramatic soccer matches.