The stage is set and now we are just hours away from crowning a new Olympic champion in soccer. Mexico vs. Brazil. Who will take home the gold? Both of these teams are looking to make history of their own as they play to win their first respective gold medal ever in Olympic soccer. Here are some thoughts about the final and how it may go down…
Brazil is in the final to pretty much no one’s surprise. Their young squad was arguably the most talented of all of the teams that travelled to London for the Olympic Games and they were one of the tournament favorites to win it all. The offensive prowess of the Brazilians, lead by the likes of Neymar, Oscar, and Leandro Damião (plus World Class talents like Hulk and Alexandre Pato riding the bench), can push to be the senior squad’s front line and can even match up to that of many other squads around the world. The defensive leadership of PSG’s latest acquisition, Thiago Silva, gives the Amazonian squad have a winning formula. Their run in the tournament has been spectacular; winning every game prior to the final and scoring 3 goals in each of those matches. However, the pressure is all on Brazil. The 5-time World Cup champions (winningest nation in that competition) have never won gold in the Olympics. But they have come very close, having played 2 other finals in the Olympic games. Brazil has sent some of its most storied players ever (some before they became World Class players) to the Olympics but they have always come out empty-handed. If this team doesn’t win it all, it may cost coach Mano Menezes position as head of Brazil’s senior team. The last time they were in the final was in the ’88 Seoul games when they were lead there by Romario and Bebeto (World Cup champions in ’94) but eventually took home the silver. If Brazil wishes to shake off its past failures and finally win its first Olympic gold, they will surely need a worthy and heroic performance from the men mentioned earlier. Through great individual work and a true team effort will the most successful nation in all of soccer win the only title it has left to win.
The only people that seriously expected Mexico to reach this stage of the competition were the Mexican team fans and the squad itself. Mexico has been preparing itself since the last Olympic process when they failed (miserably) to even qualify; most of this group played together in the Copa America ’11 and the Toulon Championship and so they’ve achieved a level of cohesion and synergy that other teams that participated in this year’s Olympics simply cannot match. Giovani Dos Santos, the team’s best player the last few games and the only player with European experience, injured himself in the semifinal game and will not be able to play in the final. However, Mexico can still perform well without the elder Dos Santos. Oribe Peralta is a current Mexican league champion and he’s on a scoring streak, marking a world class goal in the semi final match to help Mexico win against the Japanese. Marco Fabian has a quality shot and can lead Mexico’s offense with his ability to control the match on and off the ball. Mexico’s defensive lines boast long-time first-team leaders Carlos Salcido and Chuy Corona. After winning two U-17 World Cup Championships in 2011 and this year’s Toulon tournament, Mexico is looking to come on top on yet another junior-level competition.