The quarter-finals of the men’s football tournament in the Olympics is all set to begin. Japan takes on Egypt, Mexico faces Senegal, Brazil faces Honduras while Great Britain meets South Korea. We bring you the preview of the all the four matches.
Old Trafford, Manchester
4th August 2012, 12:00
Japan take on Egypt in the first quarter-final of the men’s football tournament in Olympics. The Asian caused the first real upset of the tournament as they defeated Spain in the opening game of the group stages. That defeat helped in eliminating the pre-tournament favorites Spain from the group stages itself.
The Blue Samurai followed up that win against Spain with a 1-0 victory over Morocco. They topped the group with a draw in the final game against Honduras. The most notable feature of this Japanese team has been their organization and defense. They are yet to concede a goal in the tournament. In attack they depend on the fast counter-attacks they orchestrate. Both their attackers, Yuki Otsu and Kensuke Nagai have been in great form scoring one goal each and causing lot of trouble while going forward.
Egypt made hard work of qualifying from the group, which in fairness they should have done with ease. They were in a group containing Brazil and were subsequently beaten 3-2 in their opening game by the South American giants. Though the African side showed great spirit in the 2nd half of the match against Brazil (coming back from 3-0 down in the half-time to make it 3-2), they were unable to carry that momentum against a lowly New Zealand side.
They conceded a sloppy goal in the 17th minute of the match against New Zealand and could only manage to draw the match in the end. In their final match of the group though, they beat Belarus with relative ease. Mohamed Aboutrika and Mohamed Salah have been in fine form for Egypt, but their problems lie in the defense. While they have scored six goals in three matches so far, they are yet to keep a clean sheet and have conceded five goals.
To make matter worse, Mohamed Aboutrika and Emad Moteab will be returning back to their clubs to play in the African champions league. Japan will go into this match as favorites, while Egypt will hope that Mohamed Salah can continue his fine form.
Japan Probable Starting Line-up : Gonda; Muramatsu, Sakai, Yoshida, Suzuki; Otsu, Yamamurt, Usami, Yamaguchi; Sugimoto, Saito.
Egypt Probable Starting Line-up: El-Shenawy; Fathi, Fathy, Hegazy, Ramadan; Gaber, Hassan, Gomaa, El-Nenny; Salah, Mohsen.
Players To Watch out For : Yuki Otsu (Japan), Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Prediction : Japan 1-0 Egypt
Wembley Stadium, London
4th August 2012, 14:30
Mexico did what was need to be done to qualify from a group, they were expected to advance from. They have been resilient without being spectacular. In fact, quite uncharacteristically they have been solid at the back while they looked quite unimaginative at times while going forward.
Giovanni dos Santos, as expected, has been the main creative source in the team, but Darvin Chavez and Hiram Mier have been the real stars at the back. Mexico are yet to concede a goal in this tournament so far (Japan being the only other team to do so).
They started their campaign with an unspectacular draw with South Korea, while a brace from dos Santos helped them cruise past Gabon and in their final match of the group stages they scrapped past a pretty average Switzerland side thanks to Oribe Peralta’s strike. In truth, they haven’t been tested so far.
Senegal on the other hand, have been one of the surprise packages of this tournament. Very few expected them to qualify from a group consisting of Great Britain and Uruguay. They came back wonderfully in their first game against Great Britain to claim a draw. Then they defeated a very strong Uruguayan side 2-0. In their last game, they were held to draw with UAE, but Uruguay failed to beat Great Britain in the other game, which meant that the African side reached the quarter-final of the Olympics for the first time in their history.
Moussa Konate has been arguably the player of the tournament so far. He has scored all the four goals that Senegal have managed to put through in the group stages. The Maccabi Tel Aviv youngster has set the tournament alight and is surely set for bigger things in the future.
It will be a very tight affair. The organized Mexican defense will come-up against a team which believes in attacking. One gets the feeling that the experience of the Mexican side might just give them an edge over their opponent.
Mexico Probable Starting Line-up : Corona; Reyes, Mier, Chavez, Salcido; Ponce, Aquino, Enriguez, Peralta; Dos Santos, Fabian
Senegal Probable Starting Line-up: Mane; Ciss, Ba, Gueye, Toure; M Gueye, Kouyate, Diame, Badji, Mane; Konate
Players To Watch out For : Hiram Mier (Mexico), Moussa Konate (Senegal)
Prediction : Mexico 2-1 Senegal
St-James Park, Newcastle
5th August 2012, 17:00 BST
Brazil have seemingly returned to their traditional roots if the current style of play of their Olympic team is any indicator. Plethora of attacking options upfront, talented superstars able to weave magic and scoring goals and letting in bucketful of goals. Hell, they even have the traditional shaky goalkeeper of their own.
Brazil have scored 3 goals in each of their group stages and Neymar, Oscar and Damio are having a great tournament and have truly set alight the Olympic arena.
On the other side are the surprise package Honduras. The South American minnows caused the upset of the tournament when they held on to a slender 1-0 lead against a hugely fancied Spain. This saw them secure their position in the next round and the Iberian nation was unceremoniously dumped out.
Honduras have shown guts to come till here and while they don’t have the flair players like Brazil, they have shown tremendous squad unity. Bengston has proved to be the main spearhead of the team scoring thrice in the group stages and all the strikes were vital for his team. In fact, all the goals scored by Honduras have come through him only.
However, all said and done, it seems highly unlikely that the lighting will strike at the same place twice. Honduras have come farther than anyone expected them to and this match should prove one step too far.
While there remains a high probability that Honduras will score a goal as Brazil are not that great defensively, but Brazil have come back from a goal down once and even an adverse start will not faze them much.
Brazil Probable Starting Line-up: Neto; Rafael, Silva, Juan, Marcelo; Sandro, Romulu, Oscar, Damio; Neymar, Hulk
Honduras Probable Starting Line-up: Mendoza; Crisanto, Figueroa, Velazquez, Leveron; Peralta, Martinez, Meija, Najar,Lozano; Bengston, Garrido
Players To Watch out For : Neymar (Brazil), Hulk (Brazil); Bengston (Honduras)
Prediction : Brazil 3-1 Honduras
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
5h August 2012, 17:00 BST
While GB have topped their group, at the risk of inviting the ire of Bristish fans, GB has not exactly overwhelmed. While the match against Senegal required a certain amount of luck, the match against UAE was when GB was at its commanding best and against Uruguay they did a professional task. They have shown different characteristics and Bellamy, Ramsey and Sturridge have all impressed. However, Pearce will be worried about the lack of incisiveness in front of the goal. In all the games in the group stages GB finished with a 1-0 scoreline in their favour which should have a lot more in at at least 2 games.
South Korea on the other hand have come through after winning just one of their group games that too by a solitary goal. They have scored just 2 goals and let in just 1. The scorelines point to a fairly lackluster side with talent deficiency apparent at both ends.
South Korea’s group was arguably one of the easiest and yet they barely scraped through.
Overall, all the signals portend towards the match being a dull affair with chances at premium for both sides. A defense oriented approach with some moments of class should see GB through.
GB Probable Starting Line-up: Butland; Taylor, Caulker, Tomkins, Richards; Cleverly, Allen, Giggs,Ramsey; Bellamy, Sturridge;
South Korea Probable Starting Line-up: Jung Sung-Ryong; Chang-Soo Kim, Young-Gwon Kim, Seok-Ho Hwang, Suk-Young Yun; Koo Ja-Cheol, Ki Sung-Yueng, Nam Tae-Hee, Sung-Dong Baek; Kim Bo-Kyung, Park Chu-Young
Players To Watch out For : Sturridge (England), Ramsey (England), Park Chu Young (South Korea)
Prediction : GB 2-0 South Korea