Spain's Alvaro Arbeloa (C) holds up the trophy next to his team mates after defeating Italy to win the Euro 2012 final soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Kiev July 1, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)
Tomorrow, the men's soccer tournament will kick off at the 2012 London Olympics when Mexico and South Korea begin the battle for the top of Group B. That day will also showcase eight matches from four different groups. The group stage of the tournament is set to end on August 1st with the Gold Medal match to be played on August 11.
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Group D could easily be labeled the "Group of Death" with solid teams throughout. Highlighting the group is an overwhelming favorite in Spain, but Morocco, Japan, and Honduras are all capable of pulling through to the Quarter Finals.
The current greatest soccer nation in the world will look to add to its long list of laurels. The senior team is now in conversation for the greatest team of all time, and the junior club will get a chance to show why Spain will be a soccer power for years to come.
This team is nothing if not star-studded. In goal, David de Gea, widely believed to be the successor to all-time great Iker Casillas, provides Spain with goal-tending that few other teams in the tournament can boast. The wealth of talent continues with Alvaro Dominguez, Oriol Romeu, Isco, Adrian Lopez, Cristian Tello, and Rodrigo. But the most valuable players on this side might be Juan Mata, Jordi Alba, and Javier Martinez who all played on the championship Euro 2012 team. Mata and Martinez were also a part of the 2010 World Cup champions, though they saw little time on the field. Mata and Martinez did not see much time during the Euro 2012 either, but Alba was far and away the breakout star of the tournament with his speed and composure on the back-end. He will likely never forget his goal in the Euro Cup Final which gave Spain a 2-0 lead and all but assured them of the championship.
Despite the wealth of talent on Brazil, Spain has players that have had championship experience on the highest level possible. Spain is the clearcut favorite to take the entire tournament by storm.
Morocco enters the tournament as losers of the 2011 CF U-23 tournament to Gabon, but they are easily considered the top African nation in the tournament.
Dutch coach Pim Verbeek coached the 2010 Australian side in the World Cup in South African and has proclaimed that he wants this team to aim for a medal.
He has a dynamic arsenal his disposal including the likes of Abdelaziz Barrada of Spain's Getafe squad, Adnane Tighadouini of Dutch team Vitesse, Driss Fettouhi, and most importantly Montpelier's Younes Belhanda in the midfield. Up top, the team has Younes Mokhtar amongst others to carry the offensive load of a rather deep squad.
The Japanese has been in the last three Olympic tournaments and will look to top their Bronze medal performance of 1968. This team scored 17 goals in eight qualifying matches and only allowed six in the process.
The reason for their offensive eruptions is the plethora of Japanese stars playing in foreign league. Midfielder Takashi Usami secured a loan to the Bundesliga club Hoffenheim after scoring six goals in 18 appearances for Bayern Munich's second string club. He will get help from Borussia Monchengladbach striker Yuki Otsu and Omiya Ardija playmaker Keigo Higashi who both played incredibly well during the qualification rounds. Finally, the team boasts a tremendous goalkeeper in Shuichi Gonda and a top defender in Hannover's Hiroki Sakai. Look for Japan to make tremendous strides in the group stage.
The Central Americans had a solid qualifying tournaments as they won impressively over Panama and Toga before being trounced by Mexico 3-0. In the semi-finals, they squeezed by El Salvador before having a tremendous showing in a loss against Mexico in the final. Their effort in the rematch with the Mexico is exemplary of this team's tenacity and may be an indicator of how successful they could be in this tournament.
Strikers Eddie Hernandez and Roger Rojas were impressive in the qualifying tournament and accounted for six of Honduras' nine goals in those matches. Hernandez in particular will be key to this team' success at the Olympics. Maynor Figeuroa and Roger Espinoza bring over their experience from the 2010 World Cup in which the team was grouped with eventual Champion Spain.
Honduras may be the underdog in this group, but that says little considering the fact that this team is more than capable of taking any other team to the brink in this group.
Spain: 3 win, 9 points
Japan: 2 wins, 1 loss, 9 points
Morocco: 2 losses, 1 draw, 1 point
Honduras: 2 losses, 1 draw, 1 point
Spain takes this group with facility though they score fewer goals than anticipated. Japan continues their offensive spree and dominates Honduras and Morocco. Morocco and Honduras play to a stingy draw despite being overpowered by Spain and Japan.
WATCH THE FIRST MATCHES OF GROUP D HERE.