This rich summer of football away from the domestic game has gifted us another opportunity to bask in the international game. The Olympics may not have the glamour and reputation of the World Cup or Euros, but the wow-factor is certainly not lost on the London games.
Heading into the tournament, Spain (5/2) are naturally seen as one of the favourites and obvious betting tips. The Spanish have conquered football for the past four years at senior level, with their U21 squad winning the European champions last summer and the U19s winning the same tournament only a few weeks ago.
From top to bottom the Spanish are playing the same game; a pass and move game intertwined with outstanding skill and devastating ability. For the London Olympics, it will be business as usual.
There should be no concerns with the lack of Xavis or David Silvas from this tournament squad, there is enough star power to a launch a very powerful attack on the competition. The Spanish side will be captained by Javi Martinez – as they were last year at the U21 championship – and his emergence as one of the most exciting talents in La Liga is recent years should take another step at these Olympic games.
Martinez is comfortable as the anchor for Spain’s passing game, acting gloriously as a shield for his defensive line. His strength and leadership can also be used to great effect at centre-back, where he launches attacks from a deeper position, but is composed enough to retain possession like his counterparts in the senior squad.
Also on display will be Martinez’s club mate Iker Muniain – a gifted footballer with terrier-like aggression. Muniain will likely figure as a regular in Spain’s front three, but with enough license to drift inside and take on greater responsibility.
Familiar faces will also be present in Manchester United’s David de Gea and Chelsea’s Juan Mata, with the midfielder likely to take up a creative role behind the lone striker. Watch out for the talents of Inigo Martinez, Adrian Lopez and, especially, Isco – one of Spain’s most exciting young players.
Spain can be found at 5/2 to continue their dominance in international football and grab gold at the Olympics.
Brazil are undoubtedly the one to watch at this tournament and are 6/4 favourites in the betting to win. Stripped away are the more well known stars such as Kaka, Lucio and Robinho, and in come a wealth of young talent who will figure greatly at Brazil’s World Cup in 2014.
Neymar naturally takes all the headlines before the tournament has begun. A phenomenon whose unquestionable ability has taken him into a spotlight only reserved for the most gifted. Links to Barcelona and Real Madrid are normal, but the player is right to remain in Brazil for the time being. At only 20, he may be better suited to maturing a little more before facing the heavy expectation that awaits him in Europe.
Neymar would be a good bet for the tournament’s top scorer at 11/2, having netted nine times in 18 games for his country.
Also in the Brazil squad, Oscar and Lucas Moura are receiving a lot of attention from the Premier League. Oscar will run the show in this Brazil team, taking up the creative duties from midfield. Although better suited to a role just behind the striker, Oscar has been sitting a little deeper in recent games.
The experience of Hulk and the natural instincts around the box of Leandro Damiao have left no room in the starting XI for Lucas Moura; expect the player to take on a role as an impact sub in the tournament. But for now, the quoted £30 million price-tag seems a little too high for a player of his inexperience.
Brazil’s defence and goalkeeper can be got at, but their strength is their familiarity with one another. This team have played together for many months leading up to the Olympics, and with a great deal of expectation from home, they’ll be pushing hard for gold and dominating many of their games.
Aside from Neymar, Leandro Damiao is at a very attractive at 20/1 to finish as tournament top scorer. The Internacional striker is a powerhouse with plenty of goals in him and will form the point of the Brazil attack.
Uruguay, on the other hand, may be considered dark horses in the tournament. That moniker, however, would hugely discredit the best team in South America at the moment.
Their frontline is a deadly combination of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, while Liverpool’s Sebastian Coates is also likely to figure at centre-back.
There is a lot of expectation on Uruguay to succeed as well, with the country currently holding the Copa America and performing exceptionally well for a fourth place finish at the 2010 World Cup.
The current state of the national team is similar to that of Brazil – experiencing a necessary shift to a much more youthful squad. Luis Suarez – a popular figure back home – is the face of the new wave, and the ability he’s shown in European football will be relied upon once more for his country.
Uruguay’s performance at the 1924 Olympics in Paris was far beyond what anyone had expected or even seen. They waltzed their way to the gold medal and played a significant role in the forming of the World Cup. Again, not so much dark horses this time around but rather a genuine contender for gold.
Olympic Football Tips Verdict
To succeed and grab their third Olympic gold medal, URUGUAY are at 7/1 to win the competition. Have a little bit of the betting action each-way.