Can slow-starting Brazil hold their nerve in Olympic semi-final clash?
If hopes were high for Brazil to win the men’s Olympic football gold, then the expectation on the host nation has been even higher, but despite playing far below their best, that elusive medal is in sight.
Thus far A Selecao have struggled to come good on their undoubted potential, but nevertheless, Neymar and the gang are in the semi-finals. Brazil opened with two disappointing 0-0 draws against South Africa and Iraq, and many were already wondering if the pressure of playing on home soil was again too much, following their World Cup humiliation two years ago.
But everything clicked in the final group game versus Denmark. A 4-0 win left players and fans alike breathing a sigh of relief, as precocious talents Gabriel Barbosa and Gabriel Jesus both found the back of the net. Captain Neymar then led the line in a 2-0 win over Colombia in the quarter-finals, and now just Honduras stand in the way of the host nation having a shot at the gold medal. Amazingly, for all their success and history, Brazil have never won the gold in Olympic football, but before they start dreaming of the final just yet, Honduras must be dealt with.
Los Catrachos were last seen on the big stage playing some bruising football at the 2014 World Cup. Their U23 side have performed well in Brazil this time around, and it’s the Honduran’s best ever run at an Olympics, beating their quarter-final result from London four years ago. They should be respected too, after troubling both Portugal and Argentina in the group stage.
Honduras opened with a 3-2 win over Algeria, before the Portuguese had to come from behind to win 2-1 in their second group game. A 1-1 draw with the Argentines then sent Honduras through at their opponents’ expense, and a spot in the last four was booked after an impressive 1-0 win over South Korea. And of course, as underdogs, the Hondurans have nothing to lose.
For Brazil, this semi-final represents their greatest test yet this summer of dealing with hope and expectation of millions. Can they keep their cool and reach that gold medal match?