The upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London gives the sports enthusiasts some grand spectacles to look forward to. Can Usain Bolt better his extraordinary performance in Beijing four years ago? Michael Phelps already stated that he’s not going to exceed his superb eight-gold achievement, but can he give the fans one last hurrah? From the basketball court, can the NBA star-studded American team maintain its title as the world’s best team?
General sports audience may find this a little bit hollow, but for most football fans the one that really counts in the Olympics is who’s going to take the gold medal in the world’s most popular sport.
Olympics football doesn’t usually come with a similar high stature of another global tournament, i.e. FIFA World Cup, because the world governing football organization prevents the Olympics to compete with the World Cup’s prestige. Hence, FIFA only allows each participant to field an U-23 side with 3 overaged players as supplementary addition. FIFA doesn’t want Olympics football to be a Mini World Cup, instead they made it like an enhanced Youth World Cup.
However, football in the London Olympics already promises to provide a more grasping spectacle for the audience than the previous editions because the amount of talents that are going to participate is immense. Take the Brazil team, for instance. It boasts the likes of Neymar, Ganso, Alexander Pato, Sandro, Oscar, Lucas Moura, Rafael da Silva; all are U-23 players who could easily walk into the senior team. The overaged players chosen by coach Mano Menezes are Real Madrid’s Marcelo, Porto’s Hulk, and Thiago Silva who recently moved to Paris St Germain. This team doesn’t look like a minion at all.
The World’s and European champions, Spain will also grace the Olympics football with similar firepower. Three members of the triumphant European Championship squad; Jordi Alba, Javi Martinez and Juan Mata, joined the Olympic team straight away where they will combine with David de Gea, Cristian Tello, Iker Muniain, Adrian Lopez and Oriel Romeu. Same like their Brazilian counterparts, all these young Spaniards would not raise any eyebrows if they’re picked by the senior team. Spain’s football talents are beautifully scary to its competitors considering how these excellent players were deemed as surplus prior to Euro.
The long absentee of Olympics football, Great Britain will make its Comet Halley-like appearance and the noise it had made prior to the team’s selection ensured the fans didn’t miss its great comeback.
The FAs of the three Home Nations – Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, were said to oppose the participation of Great Britain in football because they’re afraid such decision would harm their respective independence in the eyes of FIFA, but the greatest debate was whether David Beckham was worthy of a place in the team. GB manager, Stuart Pearce didn’t think so and opted for Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards to meet the three overaged players quota. Instead of given a time for a swan song on the pitch, Beckham was awarded a honorary position as Olympic Ambassador whose duty is no more than posing in front of camera and talking all things nice about the Olympics and its Citius-Altius-Fortius spirit.
How GB will fare in the Olympics is an exciting thing to watch. For those who choose to devote their weekends to watch the English Premier League, most of GB’s members are as familiar as their next door neighbors. Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is out of the squad due to injury, but Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge, Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley and Swansea’s pair of Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair are in the team. Scottish and Northern Irish FA shall not worry for their football independence because none of their players are selected in the team. There are only 5 Welshmen in addition to all Englishmen in 18-men strong squad.
GB is pitted in the same group as another strong team, Uruguay. While most of the Uruguayans brought to London are youth players, La Biancoceleste take their best talents, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates along with Napoli’s Edinson Cavani seem to cause havoc when the two teams meet in the final group match.
While we’re waiting our own Olympians to take the stage and make their country proud, the fans here and around the world will be treated by a world class spectacle on football pitch. We wouldn’t reject the idea of watching the likes of Neymar and Juan Mata in between of waiting for Taufik Hidayat and Simon Santoso.