|Men’s Soccer||Best: Germany ($8.00)
Value: Argentina ($7.00)
|Women’s Soccer||Best Bet: Germany ($4.25)|
The men’s tournament will consist of 16 teams from 6 confederations and will take place over two weeks in 6 difference cities. Hosts Brazil are the raging hot favourites and it comes as no surprise with Barcelona star Neymar to lead their side. The competitions is restricted to players aged under 23 with each team allowed a maximum of 3 overage players born before 1993.
Nation’s qualified for the Olympics via tournaments sanctioned by their respective confederations over the last year. Despite having won the World Cup a record 5 times, Brazil have never managed to win Olympic gold. Their arch rivals Argentina on the other hand were back to back winners in Athens and Beijing with Mexico the most recent winners in London.
Don’t get caught up in the hype surrounding Brazil. They are huge under at even money and The Wolf will be steering well clear. Germany are making their first appearance at the Olympics since 1988 and unlike many of the other nations they have selected the maximum amount of overage players to complement and guide the youngsters. It completely changes the complexion of the squad so you can all but forget about any results leading into the Olympics.
The twins have played at the highest level for both club and country. They will basically dominate the most important part of the field – the centre of the park. The pair are no strangers to the tournament format and were named joint players of the tournament when Germany won the European Under 19’s Championship back in 2008.
In addition they have an established striker in the form of Nils Petersen. He moved to heavyweights Bayern Munich in 2011 and after failing to lock down a permanent spot he moved to Bremen and then Freiburg. He was instrumental in Frieburg’s runaway win of the second division which saw them promoted to the Bundesliga. He was the sides top scorer with 21 goals and against youthful opposition will have a field day. Add in Gnabry from Arsenal and you have a very dangerous outfit moving forward.
Defensively they will also be very sound with Ginter, Klostermann and Sule all having played regular first team football in the Bundesliga. It’s a well rounded squad and there is no questioning the technical ability of German football. They are in the same half of the draw as the hosts and we will see a repeat of the 2012 World Cup where the senior team beat Brazil on home soil. The Germans are the value of the tournament!
They have been the most successful side at Olympic level in recent decades and have unearthed players that have gone on to become international stars. Messi, Aguero were all part of the gold medal winning side in Beijing with the 2004 side featured Tevez, Saviola and Mascherano.
Which of the current crop will go on to be a household name…
As has mostly been the case in the past, Argentina has brought just a single overage player along to the tournament – goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli. The main difference this time around is that just one man in their squad has established himself in Europe. Angel Correa was signed by Atletico Madrid as a teenager but his debut was delayed due to a heart tumor. He has since recovered and gone on to make over 20 appearances for the club, most of which have come off the bench.
They will look to Lucas Romero to steer them around the park and there will be no shortage of speed and skill on the flanks. The player to watch though is Jonathan Calleri. He burst onto the scene with his performances for Boca Juniors and is poised to make his way to the Premier League with West Ham the front runners for his signature. Still only 22 he has the attributes of a pure footballer – speed, skill, vision and one of the most exquisite touches you are likely to see – especially with his finishing in and around the box.
If thinks go according to plan they will be on the opposite side of the draw to Brazil and Germany which will make their path to the gold medal match much easier.
They are the host nation and red hot favourites but the wolf says to proceed with extreme caution with Brazil. There is no denying their quality and a side that features Neymar, Marquinhos and Rafinha is going to be hard to beat.
That being said, expectation is something that Brazil has not coped with very well over the last decade. They were embarrassed by Germany on home soil in the semi finals of the 2012 World Cup and have never won Olympic gold despite consistently having one of the best teams on paper. In 2012 they had Neymar, Hulk, Marcelo, Oscar, Pato and Thiago Silva yet they still came up short.
No disrespect to this side bu the 2012 team would make very light work of them and win by multiple goals. There will be no shortage of goals with Neymar, Felipe Anderson and Renato Agusto in the side but The Wolf has question marks as to how they will hold up when teams attack them – especially on the counter. They are likely to run into Germany in the semi’s and that’s where The Wolf has them coming up short. The 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Germany will come back to haunt them once again.
There has been no shortage of upsets in the world of football over the last year with Leicester winning the EPL and Portgual winning the European championships. Sweden won the equivalent tournament at U21 level last year – a tournament that featured Denmark, Germany and Portugal. Continuity is one of the key elements to causing upsets at any major tournament and Sweden have bucket loads of cohesion.
The majority of the squad played together at the U21 winning side last year and we have since seen several of the stars from that tournament snapped up by fringe European clubs. Alexander Ferguson is at Basel while Khalili and Tibbling also play abroad.
The Wolf says to keep a close eye on Robin Quaison. He has established himself for Serie A club Palermo and has been a permanent fixture in the starting XI for two seasons now. He has a huge work rate in the middle of the park and is a effective ball winner with excellent distribution. If you’re looking for a team at big odds Sweden is the best option.
For those who think that soccer at the Olympics is a waste – thing again! The Olympics have unearthed some remarkable talents over the years. Here is a list of the medal winners and some of their key stars since Sydney 2000.
Gold (Cameroon): Samuel Eto’o, Geremi
Silver (Spain): Xavi, Carles Puyol, David Albelda
Bronze (Chile): Ivan Zamorano, Pablo Contreras
Gold (Argentina): Carlos Tevez, Javier Saviola, Javier Mascherano, Roberto Ayala, Gabrielle Heinze, Fabricio Coloccini
Silver (Paraguay): Carlos Gamarra, Edgar Barreto
Bronze (Italy): Andrea Pirlo, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi
Gold (Argentina): Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Lavezzi, Pablo Zabaleta, Juan Roman Riquelme
Silver (Nigeria): Victor Anichebe, Peter Odemwingie
Bronze (Brazil): Ronaldinho, Pato, Ramires, Anderson, Marcelo, Thiago Silva
Gold (Mexico): Giovani, Javier Aquino
Silver (Brazil): Neymar, Oscar, Marcelo, Thiago Silva, Pato, Hulk
Bronze (South Korea): Ki Sung-yieng, Kim Bo-kyung
Unlike the men’s competition, women’s at the Olympics is seen as the pinnacle of the sport and sits alongside the World Cup in both prestige and stature. Since its inception in 1996, the US women’s national team has won 4 of the 5 available gold medals, including the last three. They were crowned World Cup Champions in Canada last year and have a star studded line up that includes goalkeeper Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan just to name a few.
The main challenge will come from Germany, a side that will consider themselves very unlucky not to have won the World Cup. In the semi against USA they dominated the early exchanges and had the chance to go ahead from the penalty spot. Celia Sasic sprayed the ball wide and it would change the complexion of the match. Team USA were wrongly awarded a penalty for a foul that occurred outside the box and after taking the lead would go on to score again against the run of play.
Germany will be out for revenge. USA beat Germany 2-1 earlier this year in a friendly but that was on home soil. There is a reason why Germany are 8 time European Champions. They have continuously been able to produce world class talent and the best example of such is Dzsenifer Marozsan. She is the youngest ever to play in the Bundesliga and made her debut at the age of 14 years and 7 months. They have a heap of experience at the back with Annike Krahn and Saskia Bartusiak and technical are the superior team in the draw. Don’t get caught up in the hype around the US. As in the case in the men’s draw, Germany are the value.
Don’t forget to check out our full coverage of the Olympic Games.