How the Bookies See it
- Men’s Winner: Brazil 4/5, Germany 6/1, Argentina 6/1 - BetVictor
- Women’s Winner: USA 11/8, Germany 10/3, Brazil 9/2 - BoyleSports
- Group A - Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Denmark
Brazil are desperate to win the gold medal and even sacrificed their Copa America hopes in order to field a strong side at their home games. The nation’s footballing pride is still recovering after a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany on home soil during the 2014 World Cup, so expect this batch of young Brazilians to come out with all guns blazing. South Africa reached this stage after a third place finish at the 2015 CAF U-23 Cup of Nations, but have never progressed any further than the group stages at the Games, a factor that could prove a hindrance. Iraq could be the dark horses of the group, having recorded a third place finish at the 2016 AFC U-23 Championships, while Denmark enter the competition on the back of an unbeaten run of games in 2016.
- Group B - Japan, Nigeria, Sweden, Colombia
Japan enter the tournament as AFC U-23 Championship winners and narrowly missed out on bronze in London four years ago. The group’s top seeds could face stiff competition from U-23 Cup of Nations champions Nigeria and Sweden, who reached Rio thanks to a surprise title win at the UEFA European Under-21 Championships in 2015. Colombia required a play-off win against the USA to reach this stage and enter Rio as favourites to win the group, but they may find life difficult mixing with championship-winning teams. Group B could prove to be the most tightly contested of all the groups.
- Group C - Mexico, South Korea, Fiji, Germany
Mexico stole the show in 2012 by snatching the gold medal away from favourites Brazil, but find themselves some way off the pace this time round as far as the bookies are concerned. South Korea clinched bronze at the same games, having beaten hosts Great Britain along the way and will be hoping for a similar performance this time out. Fiji enter their first-ever Olympic football competition, but don’t count on the Pacific islanders performing any miracles in this group, especially with a promising young Germany side completing a menacing-looking Group C. The Germans are one of the favourites to win gold and could spook Brazil should the two sides meet later in the competition.
- Group D - Argentina, Honduras, Portugal, Algeria
Argentina make the short trip to Brazil hoping to cause a massive upset in their neighbour’s back yard. Only the hosts sit higher in the betting, but a lack of major international experience could hamper the boys in blue and white in their pursuit of victory. Honduras qualified for the Games by finishing second to Mexico in qualifying, however, the Central Americans are amongst the favourites to leave this party before it really gets started. Portugal will be riding the crest of a wave after their senior side’s efforts at Euro 2016 this summer, and a number of this crop of youngsters reached the final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championships in 2015. Algeria may have finished as runners-up in the U-23 Cup of Nations, but they are expected to scrap it out with Honduras for the wooden spoon in Group D.
- Group E - Brazil, Sweden, China PR, South Africa
Brazil are the hosts and therefore amongst the favourites to collect gold on home soil, but could the pressure emanating from the home fans prove to be a negative factor? Sweden successfully negotiated the likes of the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland to qualify, but could find things difficult in the humid Brazilian climate. Watch out for China causing an upset following their second-place finish in qualifying, but competition newcomers South Africa may prove to be the whipping boys (or girls) of the group.
- Group F - Germany, Australia, Canada, Zimbabwe
Germany are being tipped to go far in Rio and should make light work of this group. The eight-times European Championship winners narrowly missed out on the SheBelieves Cup, losing 2-1 to the USA, a result that this German side will be looking to avenge. Australia ran out as winners of the Asian section of qualifying and will no doubt face competition for second place from Canada, a side who finished as runners-up to the USA in qualification. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will be hoping to cause an upset, but they must avoid a pummelling against the Germans in their first group game.
- Group G - USA, France, New Zealand, Colombia
USA enter the tournament as clear favourites with a perfect record in qualifying. The women’s team are undefeated in 2016 and stormed to victory in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year. France finished fourth in London and may provide the only real test for their transatlantic neighbours, perhaps looking to take advantage of an over-confident outfit in the second round of group games. New Zealand have qualified for just their third Games and will be hoping to continue their trend of going one step further in each tournament after a group stage exit in 2008 and a quarterfinal appearance in 2012. Colombia possess even less Olympic experience, finishing in 11th four years ago; expect another early exit this time around.
Expect Brazil to go all out for the gold medal, with big scorelines against the easier teams in Group A. On paper, the home nation look to have this one in the bag, but don’t underestimate the weight of expectation on the shoulders of these young players; a woeful performance in their opening game could spell disaster. Should the tournament go to plan, there may be the menacing presence of Germany waiting for Brazil in the semi-finals, a game that would mirror that of the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
Expect the likes of Brazil, Germany and Argentina to make it safely into the quarterfinals, with Mexico, Japan and Portugal also looking like safe bets. If you’re looking for an outsider for the title, Mexico might be the team to consider. The 2012 winners are reasonably priced to win their group ahead of Germany and could be spurred on by their team’s heroics in London.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Mexico to win Group C - 11/4 - Bet365
Expect the USA and Germany to dominate this tournament from start to finish, with the two potentially meeting in the final, a very real possibility should both sides win their respective groups. Should Brazil top Group A, they may be the only team capable of stopping the German juggernaut from powering on into the competition’s top two. The host’s will certainly be eyeing gold, but bronze may be a more realistic aim.
If you’re looking for a team to challenge for a medal, the likes of Canada and France may be worth keeping an eye on. The Canadian team battled their way into the third in London, taking their US neighbours all the way to extra time in a thrilling semi-final encounter that finished 4-3. Meanwhile, France, who missed out on bronze in 2012 to their North American counterparts, will be hoping to emerge from a relatively simple group, but could benefit more from finishing in third and qualifying as one of the best-placed third-place teams to avoid a quarterfinal showdown with Germany.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Germany to Win Gold - 7/2 - Paddy Power
*Please note that odds may fluctuate.
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