The men's football event at the 2012 London Olympics will kick off when Mexico and South Korea begin the battle for the top of Group B on Thursday, one day prior to the much awaited opening ceremony. The group stage of the tournament is set to end on August 1 with the Gold Medal match to be played on August 11.
Tournament favourites Brazil have waited a long time for an Olympic gold, and the team enters the London Games confident that the wait is finally about to end. Brazil will open their campaign on Thursday against Egypt at the Millennium Stadium, hoping a good start will lead to success in the only significant competition they have never won. Neymar, Oscar, Hulk, and many other stars will bolster a very confident Brazil squad that ranks as the best team in Group C.
Spain, World Cup and Euro 2012 winners, open their Olympic campaign in a Group D match against Japan on Thursday at Glasgow’s Hampden Park. Winning an Olympic gold medal would crown a stellar year for Spain who have dominated world football over the past few years. With the squad full of young stars, Spain possesses brilliant individuals. The likes of Juan Mata, Javi Martinez and Jordi Alba make them hot shots for a podium finish.
The host nation is set to be a combination of players from the different countries of Great Britain. Original speculation had celebrity David Beckham on the squad, but ultimately he was not given the chance. Instead, 38-year old Ryan Giggs was not only added to the squad, but was given the captaincy as well. The team is coached by Stuart Pearce and boasts a wealth of experience. Their first test will be against a speedy Senegal squad. Great Britain are favorites to win their group.
Uruguay is another contender that can be the surprise package of the tournament. The South Americans stunned everyone by including Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in a lineup that showcases mainly players under the age of 23. Suarez is one of the three over-aged players in the squad, the other two being Edison Cavani and Arevalo Rios. After a tremendous performance in the Copa America 2011, the Uruguayans can really hope to give other teams a run for their money.
Another team that can really shock everyone is Mexico, who have never won an Olympic gold. The closest they came to was fourth place in the 1968 Games at home in Mexico City. In 2008, the team surprisingly failed to make the cut but comes into these games winning their last five encounters, including a victory over Brazil, and look primed for a breakout tournament. They are also the clear front-runners to take the Group B top spot.
Brazil and Spain are likely to play an epic match for the gold medal, with Great Britain and Uruguay vying for the Bronze medal.