Olympic Football Tips
Excitement is building ahead of the 31st Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this summer, with the world’s biggest sporting event set to take centre stage once again. Football may be the most popular game on the planet, but it must share the limelight with some ‘smaller’ sports in what promises to be another amazing summer spectacle.
Running from August 3-20, with 16 teams competing for the medals, the action will take place in five other locations across the country; Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Sao Paulo and Manaus, and in seven stadia.
While all sides will field under-23 squads, a maximum of three older players may be selected. Here is our betting preview, featuring six sides with varying possibilities of success.
Brazil – 2.00
Having hosted the Confederations Cup and World Cup in the last three years, winning and reaching the semi finals in those respective competitions, Brazil are very much used to a party atmosphere and are rightly favourites here.
While the majority of their squad are based at home, three big hitters, in the shape of Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos, their talisman, Barcelona’s Neymar, and Lazio star Felipe Anderson could inspire them.
Santos midfielder Thiago Maia is just 19 years of age and a real star in the making who Brazil will also look to, while striker Gabriel Jesus will use the tournament as a way of furthering his impressive reputation.
The Selecao may not offer much value, but they are the safest bet for victory.
Argentina – 6/1
Gold winners in Beijing eight years ago, La Albiceleste will fancy their chances of a repeat this time around. Spearheaded by Atletico Madrid striker Angel Correa and PSG’s latest signing Giovani Lo Celso, they will hope to avenge the senior side’s disappointments in final defeats in the World Cup and Copa America since 2014.
While alongside Portugal in Group D, Argentina should progress with ease, given the talent in their squad. Jonathan Calleri, of Sao Paulo and a former Boca Juniors star, will likely shine too, while West Ham fans will have an eye on Manuel Lanzini.
Die Mannschaft are unlikely to go home without a fight in Brazil, having enjoyed success at all levels in recent years, including in the World Cup just two years ago.
Of all the teams in the tournament, Germany arguably have the strongest first eleven, with a real spine to their side. Schalke 04 attacking midfielder Max Meyer will grab most of the headlines alongside Sven and Lars Bender, but Niklas Sule is a towering centre half who will prove tough to get past, while striker Nils Petersen scored 21 goals in 32 games for Freiburg last season.
Arsenal’s speedy and imposing winger Serge Gnabry will also provide another attacking and tactical option. As always, sensible money is on the Germans to go far.
There has been quite a lot of excitement surrounding Colombian football since their impressive World Cup in 2014, when they reached the quarter finals.
While not amongst the red-hot favourites, there is definitely something in a flutter on them, with a nucleus of talented young players being added to by experienced striker Teo Gutierrez.
Their squad may not be filled with household names, but they could do some damage in the games and an each-way bet could well be worth it.
Mexico – 22/1
When they met a star-studded Brazil side in the final at Wembley four years ago, few expected Mexico to prevail, but they did so with a 2-1 victory.
Defending gold will prove tough, but with Hirving Lozano, a 20-year-old striker from Pachuca supposedly interesting Manchester United, in their ranks, they will be confident of making a big splash.
An early clash with Germany in Group C will determine how far they can go, while also facing Fiji and South Korea.
Despite their lengthy odds, there could be something going for a bet on them.
One of three African qualifiers, Nigeria are the side most likely to cause a threat to the more established tournament nations. Despite the senior side’s failure to reach the African Cup of Nations in 2017, the under-23s will benefit immensely from the inclusion of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Up front, 19-year-old Roma forward Umar Sadiq is a bright talent, with the Super Eagles being drawn in Group B alongside Sweden, Colombia and Japan
An unlikely winner? Perhaps not, but they are no pushovers.
Amongst the other ten sides, Sweden, winners of the European title at under-21 level last time, will be a side to keep an eye on at 25/1, while South Korea (66/1), Japan (40/1) and Colombia (16/1) will also provide good representation for Asia and South America respectively. Honduras, Iraq (both 150/1) and Fiji (1000/1) are among the outsiders, as Portugal (10/1) look to continue their senior side’s success. Algeria (50/1) and South Africa (80/1) complete the line up.
Good value bets:
- Argentina to score most goals 9/1
- Mexico to beat Germany in opening game 21/10
- Colombia to get a medal 11/4
- Sweden to get a medal 7/2
- Mexico to to win 22/1 (Each-way)
If you enjoyed reading this article you might enjoy our Track & Field Preview for Rio 2016