Olympics: Who are the favourites to win men’s football tournament?
Holly Thackeray | July 27, 2016
Which countries can go for football gold?
The Olympics is drawing ever closer, garnering attention across the globe as electric South American base Brazil hosts, among an array of events, an association football tournament for both men and women.
There will be multiple venues, not just host capital Rio de Janiero for this sporting spectacular, as in the men’s edition 16 teams from six confederations will compete and grapple for glory.
The men’s final will take place in Rio on Saturday, August 20th. But, for best profit potential, Coral punters will want to bang their bets on before then – so who are the best shouts to back to bag first prize?
Of course you have to start with the hosts here, as five-time World Cup-winning nation Brazil (odds-on 2/9 to win their opening match with South Africa) made the contentious call to omit superstar and talisman Neymar, 24, from their disastrous Copa America run.
Saving their biggest name as one of the three overage picks allowed to boost the Under-23 squad, the Samba Boys have clearly prioritised this tournament on home turf.
As three-time runners-up, going one better is really in their sights this summer, with highly sought-after teenage talents Gabriel Barbosa and Gabriel Jesus in the ranks – plus a smattering of established stars based in Europe such as PSG’s Marquinhos. Tite’s guys may not have been on best form of late, but the Samba stars have been saving themselves for this, so who would bet against Brazil in their backyard?
Brazil’s biggest and bitterest rivals Argentina may have something to say about that, and La Albiceleste should never be counted out of raising their game on Samba Boys soil, having rallied to the 2014 World Cup final in their foes’ territory.
The Argentine Under-23 contingent should not need any more motive than their own record, however, as the South American nation stormed to successive triumphs at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008.
After failing to reach the last tournament in London four years ago, an Argentina squad (27/20 to triumph over Portugal) featuring many home-based boys and Atletico Madrid attacker Angel Correa, will seek to restore pride.
Shifting to Central America, defending champions Mexico are a tasty punt to follow up their maiden Olympics success with more splendour.
Apparent Manchester United target Hirving Lozano and fellow young-gun Erick Torres find support from veteran and cult figure Oribe Peralta (32), who has a terrific scoring record for the Aztecs. From a Group C also containing big-guns Germany, if Mexico can escape, they stand as good a chance as anyone of replicating their magic.
Surprisingly, despite Germany’s excellent international trophy haul, Die Mannschaft’s efforts at the Olympics have never brought more than third place.
Expect the next generation of talent to rectify this, with Bender brothers Lars and Sven two of the three over 23 choices to bring typical stability to this core.
This really is perhaps the most promising roster with many players regularly plying their trade at the highest level and Germany are 13/10 to beat Mexico in their opener.
Punters should recognise Premier League-linked post protector Tim Horn, top defensive prospects and Bundesliga regulars Matthias Ginter and Niklas Sule, while Schalke stars Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer are midfield picks alongside Bayer Leverkusen wonderboy Julian Brandt and Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry.
Last but not least, Sweden may seem a strange inclusion in our top teams, with their best Olympics finish a quarter-final.
To boot, superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not one of the older selections – yet the Swedes recently produced a UEFA European Under-21 Championship winning squad, with at least seven from that successful squad featuring here.
They must be doing something right in their youth production lines and, though they lack attacking spark, could be this year’s defensive underdogs.