Wednesday, August 6, 2008
With the memory of the Euro 08 tournament behind us, soccer fans have another tournament to look forward to this summer, the 2008 Olympic games in China!
First off let me say this: Soccer is in a different position then other sports in the Olympics. For many sports such as swimming or track and field, the Olympics is the ultimate tournament and test for the athletes to see who is the best. However, for soccer the ultimate tournament is not the Olympics, but the World Cup. Ask any soccer player which would they rather have, a gold medal at the Olympics or a World Cup title, and the overwhelming majority would be the World Cup.
With that being said, all of the players playing in the Olympics want to win, and all represent their countries with pride.
Now for those of you that don't know, the Olympic squads are made up of players under 23 years old, and 3 spots are open for players over the age of 23. This is one factor as to why the prestige of the tournament is less then the World Cup or even the Euro tournament. Many of the top players in the world are ineligible to play!
Here are the groupings for the tournament:
I'm listing the teams in the order in which I believe they will finish
In my opinion there are 3 possible teams that can win the gold medal at the Olympic games this year. They are Argentina, Brazil, and the United States.
Argentina Preview: After a long court battle, Argentina look to have secured the services of possibly the best player in the world, and easily the best player in the Olympics in Lionel Messi. Messi will not be alone however, as Argentina also has Liverpool's Javier Mascherano and Boca Junior's Riquelme. In short, Argentina is young, talented, and dangerous, and should make it to the finals.
Brazil Preview: When you think of Brazil you think of them dominating soccer. However, an Olympic gold medal is the only major title that Brazil is yet to win! Brazil is without some of their usual international players such as Kaka and Robinho, and will instead have to rely on a few youngsters and one veteran dying to prove a point. Two of the youngsters that will have to come up big for Brazil are Alexandre Pato and Anderson. Both players are coming off good years at their clubs, and the Olympics will give them great experience going into next year. If you didn't already guess, the "veteran dying to prove a point" is of course Ronaldinho. The newest member of AC Milan, Ronaldinho believes that he can still play at the highest level, despite concerns about his health and weight. He believes that the Olympics are the perfect showcase to show the world he is still one of the world's best. I believe that if Ronaldinho can play close to the level he is capable of, and more importantly gives enough advice and support to Pato the other youngsters, Brazil could make the finals.
United States Preview: The United States seem ready to go all out in this tournament. With many of their young talents playing overseas players such as Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are in my opinion, just as good as the foreign talents their age. With many of the world's best not playing in the Olympics, the best the United States have to offer may just be good enough to win it all!
(Also look out for the Netherlands, led by youngster Ryan Babel).
Assuming Messi plays to the level he is capable of, I see no reason why Argentina shouldn't walk away with the gold.
Who do you believe will win the gold?