Perennial underachievers at Olympics, Brazil men’s football team now on a roll
Tokyo : Brazil’s extra-time victory over Spain in the final was a fitting climax to an entertaining 17 days of men’s Olympic football. Here are some of the tournament’s major talking points.
Brazil on a roll
For years they were the perennial underachievers of men’s Olympic football. However, Brazil’s 2-1 victory over Spain in the final here on Saturday, which follows their maiden title in Rio five years ago, means they are now equal second on the all-time gold medal list. Only Hungary and Britain, with three gold medals apiece, have won more.
Alaves’ trophy record
Dani Alves extended his list of career titles to 43 in Tokyo, the most by any player in football’s history. The 38-year-old now has a five-trophy lead over second-placed Lionel Messi, though the Argentine is likely to overtake the Brazilian eventually, given he is four years younger. Alves, who was absent from the Brazil squad that won gold in Rio, provided the assist for Matheus Cunha’s goal in the final. The Sao Paulo right-back wept tears of joy after the final whistle and described the triumph as the realization of a lifelong dream, reports Xinhua.
Television audiences around the world were treated to a rare goal-fest when Mexico beat South Korea 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Henry Martin and Francisco Cordova both scored twice for the El Tri while Eduardo Aguirre and Luis Romo were also on target for the victors. Lee Dong-Gyeong netted a brace and Hwang Ui-Jo was also on the scoresheet for South Korea in a pulsating battle of attacking end-to-end football.
Just as he did in the European Championships, Spain’s Pedri showed off his vast passing range and displayed composure beyond his years as the midfield fulcrum of Luis de la Fuente’s team. The final against Brazil was his 73rd match of the season, more than any other European player. Despite the taxing workload, the 18-year-old Barcelona starlet was arguably the best player on the pitch in the final, running tirelessly throughout the 120 minutes and posing a constant threat to Brazil’s defence.
Brazil’s Richarlison gets this award for scoring a tournament-high five goals. The 24-year-old Everton forward became the first Premier League player to bag a hat-trick at the Olympics in Brazil’s 4-2 win over Germany in their tournament opener. Mexico’s Francisco Cordova, France’s Andre Pierre Gignac and South Korea’s Hwang Ui-jo were next best with three goals each.
Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres confirmed his status as one of the most promising defenders in world football by leading a Spanish backline that conceded just five goals in six matches. His polished performances in Tokyo followed an impressive showing at the European Championships earlier in the summer. It is little wonder that the Spanish press has linked him with a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid.
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