As the group stages near a close, the Olympic football tournament has usurped many of the other Olympic sports, with its well attended events, entertaining matches, and (some) star players living up to expectations.
Chelsea fans will be encouraged by the solid start Oscar has made to the games with Brazil, with their new man playing well and grabbing himself a goal as the Selecao managed three goals in their first two matches. Neymar has also lived up to massive expectations, entertaining crowds across the country with his silky skills and supreme confidence, and a move to Europe looks like it should come sooner rather than later to aid his development in time for 2014.
Uruguay are the other team representing South America, and they’ve had a mixed tournament. Their captain Luis Suarez has been subject to booing around the country, and his performances have been sporadic, ranging from world class to very poor. He’s very much the pantomime villain for many fans who probably don’t even know why they’re booing him. After a shaky start to the games against and impressive UAE side, they changed formation to a more familiar four at the back and came back to win 2-1. They were then defeated by Senegal in the second game, as their defence looks as inconsistent as their captain. Uruguay and Suarez’s tournament will be defined by what happens in the match against team GB tomorrow.
Meanwhile, another favourite to win the competition – Spain – have found themselves bottom of their group with two defeats and already out of the tournament. A great disappointment for such a talented squad to go out so early, and a great disappointment for the young players who wanted to contribute to Spain’s winning habit by adding an Olympic medal.
Team GB have made a predictably steady start, with their Welsh wonders Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs acting as the team’s leaders in every way, creating and scoring goals and guiding the younger players on and off the pitch no doubt. Try telling these players that a Great British football team is irrelevant. It seems to be a great learning curve and an ideal introduction to international football for many of the players. Let’s hope the tradition continues and we can use it as other countries do to improve the future of their respective national teams.