Brazil defend title at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad (Tokyo 2020) men's football tournament
11 August 2021
The Games of the XXXII Olympiad (Tokyo 2020) men's football tournament final took place on Saturday 7 August.
Gold Medal: Brazil
Silver Medal: Spain
Bronze Medal: Mexico
The gold medal match, which took place at International Stadium Yokohama, featured two of the tournament favourites, Brazil and Spain. Despite seeing their ace RICHARLISON fail to convert a PK in the 38th minute, Brazil still managed to take the lead during additional time of the first half, with the goal scored by Matheus CUNHA. Spain responded in the 61st minute, when Mikel OYARZABAL connected with a cross to fire a well-timed volley shot to equalise the match.
The match intensified after the equaliser, as both teams showcased tenacious efforts to take the lead, but it wasn’t until the 108th minute that the next goal was scored, as MALCOM scored the decisive goal for Brazil in the second half of overtime.
Despite winning five times at the FIFA World Cup, Brazil had never won the Olympic gold medal until Rio 2016, when they called-up the ace of their senior team, NEYMAR, as one of their over-age players. After claiming their first Olympic gold at their home country, Brazil showcased a strong outing in the group stage of the Tokyo Olympics, advancing through to the knockout stage by defeating Germany and Saudi Arabia, while drawing against Cote d'Ivoire. Following their 1-0 victory over Egypt at the quarterfinals, the defending champions edged Mexico as a result of penalty shootout to advance to the final for the third straight Olympics.
What the four teams advancing to the semi-finals: Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Japan, had in common was that they brought their best possible squad for this Olympics.
Brazil brought Richarlison, who is one of the core players of their senior squad, while naming Daniel ALVES as one of their over-age players. Douglas LUIZ and ANTONY are also among those who are likely to feature the senior squad for the upcoming South American qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Spain named six players who participated in the recent EURO 2020, including Dani OLMO and Unai SIMON, while Mexico featured household names such as Guillermo OCHOA, Luis ROMO, and Carlos RODRIGUEZ.
Of course, the Japanese squad featured top young talents like KUBO Takefusa, TOMIYASU Takehiro, and DOAN Ritsu, who have become regular members of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team), while also naming YOSHIDA Maya, SAKAI Hiroki, and ENDO Wataru as their over-age players.
Many clubs have declined the request to provide their players for this summer competition, making it hard for some of the FIFA World Cup powerhouses such as Germany, France, and Argentina to come up with a solid squad. With the summer Olympics being held from July through August, many of the European clubs are in the midst of their preparation phase for the upcoming season. With the Olympics being an age-restricted competition, clubs are not obligated to provide their players and big clubs are especially hesitant to provide their players for the Olympics. France was one of the countries who struggled dearly to come up with a team, as they were forced to make numerous changes even after announcing their squad for the Olympics.
On the other hand, the trend in football did not change much. Hard work and quick transition remain to be essential factors, but the focal point was on how efficiently teams can execute each play. Especially in a tournament where matches were played every three days under scorching heat, the presence of team tactics, group tactics, and individual tactics played a huge role in conserving energy.
This Olympics also reminded everyone the significance of the fans and supporters. How their cheers and applause encouraged the players during difficult times, while giving them extra momentum in the attacking third. As the host, it was unfortunate that the Japanese squad was not able to gain that extra push from the crowd at this Olympics.
Perhaps, some countries will continue to have difficulties assembling a solid team for the age-restricted competition at the Olympics, and the gap may become bigger. In other words, Japan will continue to have a fair chance of winning a medal at the Olympics. Although the players will no longer have the luxury of playing at their own country, let’s hope they win a medal in Paris 2024.
Games of the XXXII Olympiad (Tokyo 2020)
Football competition: Wed. 21 July - Sat. 7 August 2021
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