After dancing past Honduras to the tune of 6-0, Brazil now patiently awaits a rematch with World Cup champion Germany in the world famous Maracaná Stadium on Saturday.
Still with the sour taste from a humiliating 7-1 loss in home soil at the biggest stage of world soccer, the ‘Cariocas’ look to avenge their national pride and take Olympic gold for the first time in history.
Barcelona star Neymar put away the fastest goal in Olympic history, slipping a shot past Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez 15 seconds into the match. He finished the game with a brace after notching a penalty kick to the far left corner in the 91st minute.
The Germans cruised to a 2-0 win against a Nigeria team that played valiantly throughout this tournament despite the difficulties they had getting into Rio. An early tap-in goal by Lukas Klostermann in the ninth minute and a late sliding goal by Nils Petersen in the 89th was all they would need to put away a Nigerian squad that just didn’t have enough as Germany secured its place in the gold medal game.
Brazil goalkeeper Weverton carries a five-game clean sheet streak into the final match and his team a 12-goal differential in the past three games as they struggled to scoreless draws in their first two.
Despite their early struggles against South Africa and Iraq, Brazil has carried an impeccable back line marshaled by defensive midfielder Renato Augusto. While their forwards Gabriel Barbosa, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar grab the spotlight; solid goalkeeping and a disciplined back four are what have allowed this team to go forward fearlessly and score goals.
As how it often happens on the big stage, it’s not how well a team starts, but how well it finishes; and Brazil has made the most of its chances in the past three games, looking to ride the wave to its first Olympic Soccer gold medal, but most importantly to get revenge for the worst loss in the Brazilian history.
While Olympic play is mostly players under 23 years old, each country is given an exemption of three players over the age limit; for Brazil, Neymar is one of them. The Barcelona forward purposely chose not to participate in June’s Copa America to have a chance to claim gold for his country, but a win against Germany in the final game of the tournament could be the biggest win since the days when Ronaldo captured the country’s fifth World Cup title.
Beating Germany would appease this soccer-crazed country and surely bring them hope for the future to come as their senior team has brought disappointment in recent international competitions.
Brazil has not won a major international title since winning the Copa America in 2007 and a win on Sunday would put an end to the second-worst title drought since Pelé’s retirement in 1971.