Host nation Great Britain, aka ‘Team GB’, play the first match of their Olympic Football campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford on Thursday, the day before the official opening of London 2012.
Due to the length of rest period needed between matches, the football for both Men and Woman will start a day before the opening ceremony to ensure the competition is finished before the closing ceremony.
Great Britain are in Group A, alongside UAE, Uruguay and opening opponents Senegal. Stuart Pearce is in charge of Team GB that is captained by Manchester United stalwart Ryan Giggs. Pearce has selected Micah Richards and Craig Bellamy alongside Giggs as his allowance of three ‘over-age’ players for the tournament.
The other notable names in the squad are Daniel Sturridge, Scott Sinclair and Aaron Ramsey, but sadly Arsenal and England youngster Jack Wilshere has not overcome his long-term injury. GB will be focusing firmly on qualifying from a group in which Uruguay are surely the only real threat.
However it is paramount that Great Britain start the tournament with a victory against a relatively unknown Senegal side. Team GB had a warm-up game against a star studded Brazil side last week, and were thoroughly outplayed in a 2-0 defeat that could have easily have been more. In that game the home side seemed to lack quality in midfield especially, then again they were up against the pre-tournament 6/4 betting favourites (and most people’s tips to win gold), who have selected an enormously talented side.
Their opponents in their first game are Senegal, who are without Newcastle strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. Senegal have instead selected Everton’s Magaye Gueye, West Ham’s Mohamed Diame and Dame N’Doye of FC Copenhagen as their over-age players. Besides those three the rest of the Senegal side is very unknown, especially to British audiences and they were in fact the last team to qualify for the Olympic games, needing a play-off victory over Oman to qualify. Senegal have never played in the Olympics before, which suggests that their youth sides have lacked talent, and this side doesn’t seem to be any different.
For GB, this is just about the perfect fixture to have first up, and the draw has been kind to them as they play their hardest fixture against Uruguay last. The main problem for the home side is that the players have never played before, unlike every other side in the tournament.
Great Britain will need a great deal from those players with Premier League experience such as Giggs, Bellamy, Ramsey, Richards, Sturridge and Sinclair. Pearce will be delighted to have Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge available, after he has made a miraculous recovery from meningitis.
The rest of the squad does however contain some relatively inexperienced players from lower league football sides. Goalkeeper Jack Butland was in the England squad for Euro 2012, and he looked extremely impressive against Brazil in his second-half cameo. Giggs and Ramsey will have to run the show in midfield, and much will rely on Bellamy to provide goals up front, especially in the later stages.
Great Britain v Senegal Betting Tips Verdict
Team GB should have too much class for their unfancied opponents at Old Trafford on Thursday. Giggs especially will want to put on a show at his club side’s home stadium.
- Bet on Team GB to beat Senegal 3-1 at 14/1 with Bet365 Bookmaker
- We can’t see past Great Britain at 8/13 to win the match.