Tokyo Olympics: Brazil-Germany clash to give an exciting start to men’s football

Brazil and Germany are counted among the favourites for the gold in the men’s competition, where 16 teams from across the continent have qualified.

Goalkeeper Florian Mueller tries to fend off Marco Richter's shot during a training session.   -  AP

Defending champion Brazil starts the Tokyo Olympics men’s football campaign taking on Germany, which was its final opponent in the previous edition at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The opening round of the group league stage is likely to see a cracker of a contest as two nations with great footballing legacy lock horns in the group D fixture.

Brazil and Germany are counted among the favourites for the gold in the men’s competition, where 16 teams from across the continent have qualified.

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The Selecao does not have Neymar in its ranks this time but it has a nice selection of domestic and Europe-based players in its roster. The tournament this time will be an under-24 tournament as the age cut-off dates has been retained by IOC at January 1, 1997 despite the postponement owning to the pandemic.

Brazil will be eager to redeem its pride after the disappointment in Copa America and has entrusted the task of leading the youngsters to Dani Alves, the 38-year-old defender, who has featured in two World Cups and has made 118 appearances for the national team.

Coach Andre Jardine has tried to balance the side with the Everton forward Richarlison, Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz and Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli, who are among the young Brazilians doing well in Premier League. There is also the defender Diego Carlos from Sevilla and midfielder Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon.

The German squad does have many star names but coach Stefan Kuntz has brought together a talented squad with plenty of Bundesliga experience. Among the seniors, it has Nadiem Amiri, Maximilian Arnold and Max Kruse.

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France, which takes on Mexico, is another side with a huge repertoire of talented youngsters. Amine Gouiri and Eduardo Camavinga were not released by their clubs and cannot been seen in the Olympics. The French will be looking at the flair and experience of the likes of Florian Thauvin and Andre-Pierre Gignac, the two names from its World Cup winning squad of 2018.

The matches will be played across six venues – Kashima, Rifu, Saitama, Sapporo, Tokyo, and Yokohama. The final will be at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on August 7.

The group league matches on July 22: Mexico vs France (Group- A), Japan vs South Africa (A), New Zealand vs South Korea (B), Honduras vs Romania (B), Egypt vs Spain (C), Argentina vs Australia (C), Ivory Coast vs Saudi Arabia (D), Brazil vs Germany (D).

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