Great Britain’s football coach Stuart Pearce has selected what he calls his “strongest squad” ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Claiming the squad is chosen on pure footballing reasons, Pearce has drawn together a group of what is apparently the best young stars Great Britain has to offer.
Many won’t argue with the decision to include the likes of Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy, Aaron Ramsey and Tom Cleverley. A mix of experience and youthful passion is a prerequisite for all Olympic men’s football teams that have to include 15 men under the age of 23.
Yet Team GB’s squad appears lightweight and somewhat vulnerable compared to rivals Brazil, who take the Olympic Games as a serious stage in the development of young talent. Like Argentina in 2004 and 2008, Brazil have named a team of stars for their gold-medal attempt in London this summer, something reflect in their status as favourites in the Betfair Olympics Football markets.
Their three overage players boast a wealth of talent. Chelsea target Hulk will offer an imposing presence up front, while defenders Thiago Silva (PSG) and Marcelo (Real Madrid) will guide the back four through the tournament. Neymar, the young Santos starlet, already has nine goals for the senior Brazil team, and Milan’s Pato has all but established himself as well.
Compare the talent of Silva, Neymar, Marcelo and Hulk to the big-name players in Team GB’s squad, and you soon get the idea of where both sides stand coming into the Olympics. Granted, Brazil haven’t played a major tournament like Euro 2012 a month before the Games, but nevertheless the stature of their squad is staggering compared to Pearce’s young hopefuls.
Betfair Football pundits expect Brazil to treat the Olympics like any other major tournament, and come out with all pistons firing come their opener against Egypt on 26 July.