Brazil Under-23 side arrive to Great Britain looking for their first ever Olympics trophy, but it looks as though the Seleccao have never been closer to the coveted title. The courtesy of being led by senior national team boss Mano Menezes allowed the Under-23 side to properly prepare for this tournament, having played no less than five friendly games in May and June, and that should keep them in good stead for the start of the competition.
Mano Menezes opted for Hulk, Thiago Silva and Marcelo as his three players over the age of 23, but even without the world-class trio, the highly rated coach would have had a great squad at his disposal, with the likes of Neymar, Ganso, Lucas Moura and Pato all in the side. The Seleccao have done really well in the build-up to this tournament, beating Bosnia, Denmark and United States, while losing to Mexico and Argentina, and it is important to note that all their opponents were at full strength.
Brazil Olympic 2012 Squad
Goalkeepers: Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina).
Midfielders: Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Lucas Moura (Sao Paulo).
Forwards: Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Hulk* (Porto).
Brazil first made it to the Olympics at the 1952 Games in Helsinki, when they reached the quarter-finals, and it took them until 1976 to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Back to back silver medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics remain Seleccao’s biggest success to this date, while the bronze medals from the 1996 and 2008 Games are also in the trophy cabinet. Mano Menezes and his players are hoping they can win the first Olympic gold for the national football team in London.
Following successful spells with Gremio and Corinthians, the talented coach was named Brazil national team boss in July 2010 after Muricy Ramalho rejected the post just a day earlier. Menezes managed to rejuvenate the national team and introduced a number of talented youngsters such as Neymar, Lucas Moura and Hulk, who have all been overlooked by previous managers. His side largely impressed at the 2011 Copa America tournament but were very unfortunate not to get past the quarter-finals. Menezes decided to take charge of Brazil’s Olympic squad as well and used the May and June friendlies to prepare the Under-23 side for the tournament in London.
Players to Watch
It is difficult to choose possible stand out performers in what is a star-studded squad, but Santos’ Neymar is clearly the first name on the team sheet. The young forward has been dazzling the crowds all over South America for a while now and this will be an excellent opportunity to prove his worth in Europe as well. Porto forward Hulk is also expected to shine, as he not only wants to impress the visiting scouts but is determined to stake his claim for a starting place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after finally getting a real chance in the national team. Milan’s Thiago Silva, arguably the best centre-back in world football, will make sure Seleccao are well protected at the back.
Thursday, July 26, 2012 v Egypt (20:45 CET in Cardiff) 1.38 4.50 8.00
Sunday, July 29, 2012 v Belarus (13:00 CET in Manchester) 1.2 5.5 12.0
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 v New Zealand (15:30 in Newcastle)
The biggest advantage Brazil have over other title contenders at the 2012 London Olympics is that this squad is actually their senior squad minus several high-profile players. On top of that, their Olympic side already played five friendly games in the build up to this tournament, so it is safe to say the team are well prepared for what awaits them in the United Kingdom. Boasting the likes of Neymar, Thiago Silva, Ganso, Marcelo, Hulk and Pato, the Seleccao have got to be considered hot favourites for the trophy. There is a good value in backing Brazil at 3.25 (9/4) offered by Paddy Power.