The Olympics are over and the soccer medals decided. As I have said during the last few weeks, games were worth watching.
On the women’s side Germany defeated Sweden 2-1 in a game featuring many scoring opportunities. Surprisingly it was Germany’s first Olympic gold in this sport. The bronze medal game had much more at stake, as it featured host nation and heavy favourite Brazil against Canada. Against the pressure of the largest audience they ever faced the Canadians came up with a 2-1 victory. Remembering these were the regular senior national teams we essentially got treated to an extra World Cup.
On the men’s side Brazil and Germany played an epic match. It reminded me of two heavyweight boxers going fifteen rounds. For those old enough to remember the Ali/Foreman “rumble in the jungle” or “Rocky”– you will understand what I mean. At times both teams threw caution in the wind with continuous and free flowing attacks/counters. At other times they took a rest and kept possession daring the other team to make a foray to win the ball, just to switch to a fast break. At the end of 90 and 120 minutes both teams looked like they were in a standing KO only for one player to make a last gasp run. Truly one of the best games this author has ever seen. In the end it went to a penalty shootouts which Brazil won 5-4 an overtime 1-1 score.
The bronze medal game was interesting as well. After Honduras received a 6-0 semi-final drubbing by Brazil and was down 3-0 to Nigeria, I switched off the TV midway through the second half. Only to find out later that Honduras scored two quick goals and closed the gap with 15 minutes to go. What a finish.
Remember that on the men’s side teams were U23 (with an option of three senior players). There were definitely future stars on display. Follow the senior squads to see them emerge. To me the Brazilian team looked better than the one at World Cup 2014 and the German team better than the one at Euro 2016. A bright future lies ahead for both nations. If you want to see the genesis of the 2020 Olympic teams start watching and following U 17 to U19 tournaments now. There are European and World championships for these age groups.