With both the Copa America and Euro 2020 nearing a conclusion, the international action continues with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which is due to begin at the end of July.
While not perhaps the highpoint of the footballing calendar, Olympic football remains a highly enjoyable event nonetheless, showcasing the very best young talent from across the globe.
Although there is set to be no British involvement once again, that’s not to say it isn’t worth tuning in, as there remains a plethora of high profile stars who could be lining up for their countries this summer.
With each participating nation able to select a squad restricted just to players aged 24 or under – plus the addition of three overage players – the tournament provides a slightly different spectacle to the average international major tournament.
So for those of you looking to Stream Tokyo Olympics 2020 live, here are the five favourites to win Gold this summer.
Losing finalists against hosts Brazil in 2016, Germany will be hoping to go one better this time around, albeit with a side far from stacked with top-class talent.
Manager Stefan Kuntz – who played a key role in helping the nation to Euro ’96 success as a player – will be pinning his hopes on his three overage players, Max Kruse, Nadiem Amiri and Maximilian Arnold, the latter of whom helped Wolfsburg secure a Champions League spot last term.
The squad also includes seven of the players that tasted glory in the recent U21 European Championship’s, although Kuntz was critical of the lack of help from the Bundesliga’s biggest sides who appeared reluctant to release their players.
That unwillingness is not uncommon, with club’s well within their rights to deny players involvement in the tournament, as it is not included as part of FIFA’s footballing schedule – with Liverpool’s Mo Salah set to be denied involvement for Egypt by the Reds.
Nevertheless, having been drawn in a group that includes Saudi Arabia, Ivory Coast and Brazil, progression to the knockout stages as runners-up or group winners is more than likely, although there are perhaps sides better placed to win.
Back-to-back winners in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, Argentina will be looking to add a third Olympic gold this summer, lead by U23 manager Fernando Batista.
Despite the nation’s current involvement in the Copa America, with Lionel Messi and co having secured a place in the showpiece, Batista has still been able to select an exciting looking Argentine squad, such is the depth in the country’s ranks.
At the back, Atletico Madrid youngster Neuhen Perez is one to watch, while the midfield is also well stocked with talent, notably Velez Sarsfield’s highly-rated youngster Thiago Almeida and Brighton and Hove Albion man Alexis Mac Allister.
In attack, the excitement should be provided by Atlanta United’s pacy wideman Ezequiel Barco, the 22-year-old having caught the eye in the MLS in recent seasons, while the only overage inclusion is that of Cadiz stopper Jeremais Ledesma.
Having been drawn in a group that includes Australia, Egypt and Spain, Batista’s men will fancy their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.
It’s not been the ideal preparation for France heading into the tournament, with coach Sylvain Ripoll originally naming his squad on 25 June, before being forced to announce a new roster a week later, after resistance from a number of club’s to release their players.
While he was forced to name 11 new faces in his second selection, there is still inevitably plenty of quality in the squad regardless, such is the seemingly neverending pool of talent that the World Cup holders have to offer.
In defence, there’s some rising stars in the form of AC Milan full-back Pierre Kalulu and Paris Saint-Germain teenager Timothee Pembele, although it’s further forward where the real talent lies.
France – who last won Gold in Los Angeles in 1984 – have real two real key players in their ranks, having opted for Tigres duo Florian Thauvin and Andre-Pierre Gignac as part of their allotted overage players.
While no spring chicken at 35, former Marseille man Gignac provides a guaranteed supply of goals, having fired in 149 goals in just 261 appearances for the Mexican side since his arrival in 2015.
The veteran striker will likely come up against some familiar faces with Ripoll’s men drawn against Mexico in their group, as well as Japan and South Africa.
Spain’s status as one of the favourites has largely come as a result of the news that six of their Euro 2020 squad will be competing in Tokyo this summer, despite having enjoyed a lengthy run in the tournament to the semi-final’s.
That will see Unai Simon, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, Mikel Oyarzabal and Dani Olmo all continue their summer of international involvement, as well as 18-year-old sensation Pedri, the Barcelona youngster having been hugely impressive over the last month.
The wealth of talent does not end there, however, with quality provided in the form of their three overage players; Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, Real Sociedad man Mikel Merino and former Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos all set to be involved.
Elsewhere in the squad, coach Luis de la Fuente has also selected promising full-back and La Masia graduate Marc Cucurella, as well as current Barcelona squad member Oscar Mingueza, who enjoyed a breakthrough season under Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp.
Add to the mix Valencia star Carlos Soler, as well as Sevilla youngster Bryan Gil and it’s easy to see why Spain are expected to go far in the tournament.
The bookies’ favourites are, however, Brazil, who will be hoping to retain their crown this summer, after having clinched Gold on home soil five years ago.
As good as the side above looks, a quick glance at the Brazilian squad and its quite clear as to why they are so heavily fancied to repeat their 2016 success, even with that summer’s talisman Neymar not involved.
At the back, Arsenal centre-back Gabriel has earned an inclusion, as to has Sevilla defender Diego Carlos, while 38-year-old serial winner Dani Alves has also got the nod, the Sao Paulo man having earned a recall to the national set-up earlier this year after a two-year absence, although was ruled out of Copa America action due to injury.
In midfield, Aston Villa man Douglas Luiz is likely to feature heavily, while Real Madrid teenager Reinier – who is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund – is also involved.
The squad’s real strength, however, lies in what can only be described as a mouthwatering attack, including possible Los Blancos target and Everton man Richarlison, Gunners forward Gabriel Martinelli, as well as Ajax winger Anthony.
With Bayer Leverkusen’s Paulinho and Hertha Berlin star Matheus Cunha also included, the attacking options are seemingly endless and should pose a real threat to any side in the tournament.
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The post Olympic Football: Ranking the five favourites to win Gold in Tokyo this summer first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Robbie Walls