So far this summer we have been spoilt by the sport we have seen so far. Fresh off of the back of an epic Wimbledon and British Grand Prix, not to mention one of the best international tournaments for the last decade in the form of Euro 2012. This is all before the main spectacle of this summer - The London Olympics 2012. The Men’s soccer tournament kicks off on the 25th of July where we will be treated to four games in one day! Teams qualified by winning various ‘mini-groups’ from their regions. The teams will start in groups of four, with the top two qualifying for the quarter-finals. From here there will be semi-finals, a third-place play-off and the Final. Below we will try to weigh up the favourites chances.
Stuart Pearce's selection made the headlines for the wrong reasons with the absence of David Beckham from his ‘older’ player selection. This drew outcries from many quarters as not only is Beckham a legend of the game (and still performing at a good level, see this goal) he also was part of the team that brought the Olympics to London. Instead of Beckham, Pearce chose Micah Richards, Craig Bellamy and Team GB captain Ryan Giggs who will be featuring in his first major international tournament. Notable absences include Gareth Bale, who pulled out with a back injury whilst Daniel Sturridge has managed to recover from meningitis. Team GB are best priced with Bluesquare at 10s and being the patriot I am, will probably tempt me to put a couple of quid on.
Unsurprisingly Brazil enter the tournament as the early favourites mainly due to Neymar, who Pele has dubbed (rather prematurely) as better than Messi. The talent doesn't stop there as the squad includes Thiago Silva, Hulk, Marcelo and Alexandre Pato. Unbelievably Brazil will be searching for their first Olympic Gold. However they are odds on with most bookmakers and are best priced with Stan James at 2.75 to win the tournament.
The Spanish team contains two goal scorers from the European Championships final in Juan Mata and Jordi Alba. Their squad also boasts Javi Martinez, David De Gea and Oriol Romeu. The Spanish are always dangerous at major tournaments and must be considered as a real contender for the Gold. A price of 3.61 with Betfair reflects this.
Uruguay have been the surprise package of international football in recent years. They made the semi-finals in the 2010 World Cup and won the 2011 Copa America. Suarez and Cavani make up the best frontline in the tournament and two of their three over 23 players. They are priced at 8 at a few bookmakers, including Coral and Ladbrokes. This, for me, could be a good value bet as they have placed the senior national team coach in charge.
The whipping boys of the tournament are likely to be the United Arab Emirates. They lack experience in major tournaments as this is the first time they have qualified for the Olympic Games. However, on their way to the games they knocked out the likes of Australia and Uzbekistan with some good performances. Of the few match reports we managed to find, they described the defence making dangerous errors and the strikers miss-firing. This will be good news for Great Britain as they are in our group. But, knowing our luck, they will have the tournament of their lives and probably knock us out. If you were inclined to back these rank outsiders you could get price of 950 with Betfair.
To be honest limited age tournaments are always lower on the quality scale compared to the major summer tournaments, and it’s hard to look past the pre-tournament favourites for a winner. That said, with the football leagues on their summer holidays we’re all about any opportunity to watch some football so we’ll be watching and betting throughout. Here at TGT we have put together a sweepstake to make things interesting. See here for the rules and how to enter.
Could Team GB win a medal, of any colour, on home soil? Is it too much to dream that Bellamy can actually play three games in a week, something he’s failed to do in the last year or so? Will TheGamblingTimes be getting a threatening letter from the Seb Coe for our liberal use of 2012, Olympics, Football without even a nod to their sponsors? Whatever you’re thinking, get your comments below the line and on the forum.