Brazil's players celebrate after their men's Group C football match against Egypt at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff July 26, 2012 (Photo : . REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)
Coming into the tournament, pundits had Brazil and Spain facing off for the gold medal team with Uruguay in the mix. Two of those teams are out and in their place you have surprise squads. Which teams are now favorites to take the gold medal? How do the eight remaining teams rank against one another?
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At this point, the gold medal is Brazil's to lose. They have the most dynamic squad remaining with a plethora of superstars in the making. Neymar has been all he was hyped to be while such players as Sandro, Leandro Damiao, Oscar, and Alexandre Pato have stepped up their level of play as well. The Brazilians remain weak in goal due to a pre-tournament injury to Rafael, but with nine goals in three matches, they have more than in enough firepower to nullify the weakness.
Brazil plays an aggressive possession game that has been too much for its first three opponents and should continue to wreak havoc on future rivals.
2. Great Britain
The Home Squad has been a revelation through three matches. They endured a late draw against an impressive Senegal squad before firing back with a dominant win against a strong United Arab Emirates. They sealed the deal with a strong win against a highly favored Uruguayan team and won Group A. Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy have been extremely efficient on the front line while the rest of the squad has gelled into a complete unit. They lack the high-end talent of the Brazilian squad but make up for it with depth and unified play.
The Samurai have quietly been the most impressive squad in the tournament. They not only beat tournament favorite Spain in the opening match, but dominated the Spaniards throughout the match. They then took down a good Moroccan squad before holding a hungry Honduras team in check. In the process Japan became one of two remaining squads that has yet to relinquish a goal. They have only scored two goals, but their offense has been aggressive and potent. They could have won the game against Spain by 3 or 4 goals had David de Gea not rescued the Iberians on numerous occasions. Egypt will be in for a tough battle.
Mexico certainly has more potential than Egypt on paper, but the Egyptians have been fantastic in this tournament despite what the results might indicate. The loss to Brazil was the tale of two halves: one in which the Pharaohs looked overwhelmed and unprepared and another in which they outplayed the pre-tournament favorites. Against the New Zealand squad, Egypt was unlucky not to runaway with that contest. They were finally rewarded for their hard work with a cakewalk victory against Belarus. This team has gotten better as the tournament as progressed and there is no reason to believe that with growing confidence this team cannot make a deep run.
El Tri has not been dominant by any stretch of the imagination. And they have often looked lethargic. But they have been efficient. They have yet to yield a goal in the tournament and have found a way to win two matches that they did not necessarily deserve to win. Giovanni Dos Santos is one of the best players in the tournament and coupled with Marco Fabian, this team has only hinted at its potential. If they can actually reach it, they might be competing for a gold medal.
6. Korea Republic
They are aggressive and have a potential to score, but the Koreans were only able to find the twine in one match. In the other two, the squad was held at bay and looked frustrated despite strong offensive display. Defense was cited as a weakness before the tournament, but it has yet to manifest itself. Korea faces an extremely solid Great Britain team and is one of the main reasons that they find themselves so low on the list.
Moussa Konate has been a revelation, but the big question is whether Senegal can get more contributions from other players. They played well against Great Britain and dominated Uruguay. Their match to the UAE was more tempered however. This team is aggressive and lightning quick, but they face off against a Mexican squad who has an equally dynamic striker leading the charge and a seemingly impenetrable defense guarding its net. Mexico is more skilled than Senegal and will hone in on Konate. Senegal needs to find more support for the young striker or their dreams of a medal will quickly fade.
The Central Americans have been strong to start the tournament and this placement is more of a reflection of their unfortunate seeding in the knockout stages. Can this team beat Brazil? Probably not. Jerry Bengsten has been solid with his three goals, but there is no looking past how exposed this team is defensively. They beat Spain 1-0, but Spain had a fair share of chances to not only tie the match but also win it. Unlike the Spaniards, the Brazilians know how to score, and they will against a Honduras squad that has already over performed.