Olympic Football Rio 2016

Read predictions for Rio 2016 Football Olympics to know who will win the race for Gold Medal

Olympic Rio Olympic Rio 2016

The Olympic Games are now just a few days away and the football tournament will again be catching the attention of a lot of sports fans during the event.

Although Rio is the official host city of the 2016 Games, football matches will be taking place all over Brazil, with about 430 footballs set to be used over the course of the competition.

Matches get under way on August 3 and the final will take place on August 20, so the football tournament spans virtually the entire duration of the Games, meaning there will be matches taking place almost every day.

Brazil have unsurprisingly been priced up as the favourites to take the gold medal, going one step further than four years ago when they were surprisingly beaten in the final by Mexico.

The presence of Brazil's star man Neymar, who missed the Copa America earlier in the summer so that he could instead play in the Games on home soil, could act as an inspiration for his team.

As ever, the Games are designated as an under-23 tournament, so it is a great chance to see some of the stars of tomorrow in action, although nations can also select three overage players.

Host cities

The Olympics official host city of Rio de Janeiro has two stadiums holding matches at the Games: the famous Maracana, which was renovated for the 2014 World Cup, and the Olympic Stadium itself, which can host 60,000 spectators.

Maracana Maracana will host one of the semi-finals and the final of the Olympics tournament, while group games including Argentina v Portugal and Honduras v Algeria will be held at the Olympic Stadium.

Away from Rio, the biggest stadium being used for the Games is located in Brasilia, with almost 70,000 people able to pack into the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, which was also used for matches at the World Cup two years ago.

The Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo will host the other semi-final, while the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte has been chosen as the host stadium for the bronze medal match.

High up the Brazilian coast, Salvador's Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova is again hosting major international football after being used as one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup.

Finally, in the jungle of Manaus in the north of Brazil, is the smallest stadium being used for the Games, the Arena da Amazônia, which has a capacity of just over 40,000.

Recent history

The last time a European team was able to take gold at the Games was back in 1992, when Spain triumphed on home soil, with Poland beaten 3-2 in the final that year.

Spain are the only European nation to have even reached the final of the Olympics football tournament since then, losing to Cameroon in the Sydney Games of 2000.

Mexico The defending champions are Mexico, who shocked Brazil with a 2-1 win in the final four years ago in London, while the bronze medal game was an all-Asian affair, with South Korea triumphing 2-0 against their local rivals Japan.

Argentina Prior to the 2012 Games, Argentina won the competition twice in a row. Although they have not won a major international tournament in over 20 years, the Olympics has been good to them. They beat Paraguay 1-0 in the 2004 Games final before defending their title by the same scoreline against Nigeria - who beat Argentina to become Olympic champions in 1996 - four years later.

Brazil Although Brazil start this year's Olympics football tournament as the favourites, they have never before won gold at this event, with Cameroon, Poland, Belgium and Sweden among the nations to have a richer history in the tournament than the 2016 hosts.

Statistics

The 2012 Games had the highest attendance ever for the football tournament, with 47,660 people on average watching matches that took place all over the UK.

Brazil 2016 has a chance to beat that record, but only if tickets sell out in some of the larger venues that are being used throughout the tournament.

After the 2000 and 2004 Olympics tournaments both featured a glut of goals - over 100 were scored in each competition - the last two Games have seen a reduction in striking activity, with 75 scored in 2008 and just one more scored four years ago.

Argentina Great Britain, Hungary and Argentina are tied on two gold medals apiece, with no one team able to dominate the Olympics. Team GB are not sending a team to this year's Games and Hungary are not going to be involved either, so Argentina have a great chance to become the most successful nation in the history of the competition.

Denmark The highest score ever recorded in the Olympics was a 17-1 win for Denmark over France in the 1908 Games, while Germany beat Russia 16-0 four years ago.

With Iraq and Honduras among the minnows in attendance in Brazil this summer, perhaps similar scorelines are possible.

The favourites

Neymar

Brazil are the favourites for the gold medal, with the inspirational presence of Neymar perhaps able to spur the hosts on to glory and what would be their first ever triumph at the Games.

Barcelona star Neymar shoulders the hopes of his country and the team will be heavily reliant on his goalscoring and creativity, although there is plenty of talent elsewhere in the squad too.

The 24-year-old was involved in the team that lost in the final four years ago, with Brazil's silver medal adding to the close misses they have endured at the Games previously. Brazil - priced at around the 11/8 mark to take gold - were also the runners-up at the Olympics in both in 1984 and 1988, while they took bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Palmeiras goalkeeper Fernando Prass and Renato Augusto, the 28-year-old Beijing Guoan midfielder, have been selected as the other two overage players in the Brazil squad, but it is undoubtedly Neymar who will be dominating the spotlight for his team.

Argentina are well-fancied to do well at the Games despite the well-publicised issues with the country's football association, which even led to speculation that they would not be sending a team. However, a squad including Manuel Lanzini, Luciano Vietto and Angel Correa will be a big threat at the Games, with odds of 6/1 offered on them collecting gold for a record third time.

Germany, always dangerous in tournament football, are also among the favourites to claim a medal at the Olympics and they are available at a price of 7/1 to come out on top in Brazil.

Dark horses

Oribe Peralta Despite being the defending champions of the event, Mexico can be found at odds of as big as 20/1 to win the title again. Club America striker Oribe Peralta was one of El Tri's heroes four years ago and he has again been included as one of the trio of permitted overage players in the squad.

Alfredo Talavera Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera will also be in the team, but speculation that Javier Hernandez could play in the Games came to nothing, although some stars from Mexico's Under-17 World Cup winning squad from 2011 may be selected.

Jordan Larsson One of the stories to watch will be the development of Henrik Larsson's son Jordan, who has been included in the Sweden squad for the Games. The 19-year-old, who is a striker like his father, is currently on the books of Helsingborg and he could be a threat despite being yet to make his international debut for his country.

Larsson will be under a lot of pressure to shine due to the fact that Manchester United's new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic has opted not to play at the Games, instead announcing his retirement from international football. Sweden's odds have been set at 25/1 to win the gold medal.

Players To Watch

While Neymar will understandably dominate the spotlight, there are plenty of other big names who are going to be in action at the Olympic Games this summer, as well as some stars of the future.

Marquinhos and Rafinha are among the Europe-based players involved for Brazil, who have selected mainly players plying their trade at home for the Games.

Olympic Rio 2016

Arsenal's new signing Takuma Asano has been named in the Japan squad, so Gunners fans will certainly be interested in watching out for him at the Olympics, while experienced defenders Hiroki Fujiharu and Tsukasa Shiotani are among Japan's overage selections.

Simon Tibbling of Sweden looks to have a bright future, while Germany have named a strong squad including Matthias Ginter and both Lars and Sven Bender, along with Schalke's Max Meyer.

Tottenham forward Son Heung-min will line up for South Korea, with new Manchester City signing Gerónimo Rulli playing in goal for Argentina at the Games. Jonathan Calleri, a young forward who is reportedly on the brink of a move to West Ham United, has also been selected for Argentina.

Andre Martins Finally, Portugal have a useful squad of players to select from, with Andre Martins and Bruno Fernandes among the most recognisable names on show, with Liverpool's Tiago Ilori picked too.

 

Betting tips

Brazil's squad looks unbalanced and while it is entirely possible that Neymar fires them to glory on home soil, their status as short-priced favourites for the gold medal does not look good value.

Odds of 6/1 and 7/1 on Argentina and Germany respectively are more tempting, while the 20/1 on Mexico to defend their title is a very big price indeed.

It has already been a summer to remember and Portugal could well follow up their unexpected triumph at Euro 2016 with another title here. They can be backed at 10/1 to take the gold medal.

Away from the outrights market, there are some juicy prices on offer for nations to claim a medal by finishing in the top three of the 2016 Olympic Games football tournament.

The 11/4 on Mexico - drawn against Germany, Fiji and South Korea in the group stage of the competition - to win a medal is far too big to ignore, while the 6/1 on Japan and the 8/1 on South Korea are also very appealing as well in this market.

Teams of Olympic Football Rio 2016

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