The stage is set for the final of the men’s football event at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Brazil has a chance to defend the gold medal which it won at the 2012 Olympics in Rio when it takes on Spain this weekend at the Nissan stadium.
The Selecao have the opportunity of joining Uruguay and recently Argentina as the only South American teams to have won back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics.
La Roja will also be looking to win this highly prestigious event for the first time since 1992. They were Silver medalists in Sidney 21 years ago losing to Cameroon in the final.
This year’s event has delivered varying emotions: from excitement and drama to a few lethargic performances due to fatigue.
Mexico has won the bronze medal after a 3-0 win against the hosts, Japan in the third-place match.
However, both teams are football heavyweights Hence, this encounter promises plenty of dramatic moments and quality.
Brazil’s Road To The Final
Brazil came into this tournament as one of the favourites having won the last edition. Andre Jardine had also shown desire by naming a very strong squad, with at least five players having participated at the 2021 Copa America.
It took only 30 minutes for the former champions to register their intent as Richarlison scored a hat-trick against Germany. The Germans tried to claw their way back when they pulled two goals back but Jardine’s men were good enough to see the game out with a 4-2 win.
Cote d’Ivoire tested the mettle of the Selecao in the second group stage match which ended in a goalless draw. Douglas Luis was shown a red card in the first half.
Yet, they picked seven points from a maximum of nine when they convincingly defeated Saudi Arabia 3-1.
Matheus Cunha was the difference when the South American giants faced a resilient Egyptian side in the quarterfinal.
Then, they needed the lottery of penalties to go past rivals Mexico in the semifinal after both teams failed to score in 120 minutes.
Spain’s Journey To The Final
Like Brazil, Luis de la Fuente also named a particularly experienced squad for the 2020 summer Olympics.
A decent amount of the players that featured at the Euros made the cut including 18-year-old Pedri. The midfielder had played all but one minute at the continental competition.
However, Spain began the tournament slowly, only managing a drab goalless draw against Egypt in the opening match.
They played out a 1-1 draw against Argentina before defeating Australia by a single goal to finish top of the group.
The young Spaniards advanced to the semifinals in the most dramatically after Rafa Mir came in to score the equaliser with three minutes left. Ivory Coast was within touch and distance of progressing, yet Mir scored two more goals to make it 5-2 in extra time to send the Europeans into the next round.
Marco Asensio scored an excellent curler in extra time to guarantee a spot in the final for Spain at the expense of Japan.
What To Expect
Brazil and Spain have shown quality all through the 2020 Olympics. This final will surely be evenly-fought.
The South Americans have been solid in defence while also explosive in attack. Jardine will look to build a solid defensive block against the 1992 Champions who will expectedly dominate possession.
The experience and leadership of 38-year-old Dani Alves will count for plenty especially in the team’s offensive set-up.
Richarlison will hope to increase his tally of five goals and inspire his team to the gold medal.
Spain has been profligate in front of goal. They only managed two goals in the group stages.
Fuente will count on Barcelona midfielder, Pedri alongside Mikel Merino and Martin Zubimendi to dictate the play.
Dani Olmo and Asensio will have to take their chances in attack when they come to go past the Brazilians.
In the end, both teams are evenly matched in quality. This tie looks destined to head to extra-time and possibly penalties. The goalkeepers may eventually become the heroes at the end of proceedings.