Team GB Olympic football preview
With the Olympics drawing every closer, like the impending visit of a large irritating relative, OTP poses the question: if the British media clamours so much for the national team to succeed, does the Olympic football team offer a greater chance of success?
For far too long now, the tabloid media has whipped the country into a frenzy at the start of all international tournaments by declaring ‘England are going to win the World Cup/Euros!’ while simultaneously declaring every other nation that we are to play against as ‘Rubbish’.
Not to let the facts get in the way of a good story, but one international success and one subsequent semi-final appearance do not bear the mark of a team to whom world domination comes easily. Spain’s recent performances, for example, have taken domination to a level we have not seen since football was played with no offside rule, very large shorts and goalkeepers who smoked during games.
Interestingly, and due largely to the format, the majority of the major forces in world football have never done particularly well in the Olympics. This can’t help but leave one scratching one’s chin, looking into the middle distance with a dreamy look in the eye and saying “I wonder…”.
Unfortunately for Team GB, the very fancied Brazil squad seem to have an idea that they would in fact very much like an Olympic gold medal. Would it be cynical to suggest that this comes at somewhat of a lull in terms of international quality for them? Very possibly. When you consider the household names included in their squad though – Neymar (surely the most coveted player outside of European football at the moment), AC Milan’s Pato, Tottenham’s Sandro and Manchester United’s Rafael – it would certainly seem, on paper, that they are taking this seriously.
So, can Team GB win gold? Can team GB even finish on the podium, and would this go some way to placating the general public who have been left feeling like somewhat like wall-flowers at their own party for the last
30, 40, 60 years?
Looking at Team GB’s group, it does seem probable that we will qualify. While we have the pleasure of hosting a Luis Suarez-led Uruguay (the Liverpool man has been scoring for fun recently in friendlies), Senegal and UAE would seem to be beatable.
If, for the sake of argument, Team GB qualify, what then lies in store for the boys in search of Olympic gold?
It’s tough to call, given that our quarter-final opponents will be from Group B – so Mexico, South Korea, Switzerland or unknown quantity Gabon. You’d expect the Mexicans and Koreans to progress (although without the aid of a match predicting Octopus/dog/pig/single cell organism, it is difficult to say with any certainty).
If all goes as plans and the favourites progress as they so often do in tournament football (ahem) the quarter finals should be a real treat, with Uruguay, Team GB, Brazil and Spain pitting their might against each other. As for the finalists, anyone’s guess is as good as mine (apart from my friend Steve – who couldn’t predict a wet fart in a shower).
Odds wise in the Olympic football betting stakes, the Brazilians take favourite spot at 7/4, Spain come in second at 5/2, followed closely by the Uruguayans at 7/1. Team GB have a healthy 19/2 tacked on to them, which may be worth that couple of pound you found at the side of the sofa – next to some discarded sweet wrappers and two bits of Lego.
England, of course, have a warm up game this evening against Brazil, which will at least provide a look at how the defensive base, marshalled by man mountain Micah Richards, will stand up to the technical football of which British sides are so inherently distrusting. ‘Tis witchcraft, surely.
I can see Team GB winning this by the odd goal, setting the nation’s hopes soaring only to disappoint us after the group stages. After all, it wouldn’t do to break with tradition now, would it?
And so that’s a whole article about Olympic football and David Beckham hasn’t been mentioned once… oh. Damn.