Brazil's Neymar (top) celebrates with teammate and Oscar after scoring their second goal against Belarus during their men's Group C football match at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford in Manchester July 29, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Andrea Comas)
Coming into the tournament, a number of players were expected to play at a certain level. During the course of three matches during the group stage of the Men's Soccer Tournament at the Olympics, a few players made their presence felt. Here are the best players from the Group Stage of the Olympics.
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The Brazilian phenom is currently being touted as the next great player in the world. This tournament was his first chance to show the world just how great a player he is and to this date, he has done just that.
Despite an often selfish display against Egypt, the superstar scored the game winner in that match before scoring the game winner against Belarus. The second match was easily his best but he proceeded to have another strong match against New Zealand in which he was the catalyst on a few goals. He had several opportunities to add his own tally, but his inability to finish was not his fault.
He was expected to carry Brazil to victory alongside a star-studded cast and he has not failed to impress.
Mohamed Salah has scored one more goal in the tournament for the Pharaohs, but Aboutrika is the heart and soul guy and has come up big for the Egyptians during the tournament. Aboutrika scored the first Egyptian goal against Brazil that injected the necessary life into the Africans to get back into the match. They have never looked back. Aboutrika added two assists (a glorious one in the match against New Zealand) in the first four matches and scored a big goal to seal the win over Belarus. He is the playmaker and Egypt's success against Japan will depend heavily on his play.
Giovanni Dos Santos
For some odd reason, Dos Santos found himself on the bench to start the first two matches for the Mexican squad. And when he was on the bench in those two matches, El Tri's offense was lethargic at best. The insertion of Gio at the end of those two games indicated just how valuable a player he is to his home country. Against Korea he failed to score but managed to create opportunities and put the otherwise aggressive Koreans on the defensive. Against Gabon the striker exploded for two goals, including on a penalty late in the match.
He got his start in the match against Switzerland, but the entire Mexican squad was ineffective with only Dos Santos providing scoring chances in the early going.
Bellamy's stats are not as eye popping as that of the other players on this list or even his own teammate Daniel Sturridge, but Bellamy has been a dominant force for the British through their first three games. The veteran has been all over the pitch creating scoring chances and setting up his teammates with an aggressive passing game. His lone goal against Senegal was a historic moment for the Great Britain side and Bellamy has been relentless since. The British have played well as a unit with other players such as Ryan Giggs and Scott Sinclair contributing, but Bellamy has been the best of the bunch.
The most pleasant surprise of the tournament has been the explosive abilities of Konate who has carried Senegal to the quarter finals practically on his own. He has all four goals for his squad in the tournament and has done it in a plethora of ways. His header against Uruguay while his team was down by one man was a thing of beauty as was his delicate chip against Great Britain the waning moments. No other player has looked as dynamic in this tournament as Konate and it will be imperative for Mexico to shut him down should they wish to proceed to the semi-finals.