Olympic Games preview: Group A
Published: 25.07.12 / Written by: David Gold
Britain take to the field at the Olympic Games for the first time in over 50 years this week when they face Senegal.
It is a controversial return though, with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales objecting to their players being included. As it was, only Welshmen were picked alongside a predominantly English line up.
Key among them is the captain, Ryan Giggs. The Manchester United man will finally get the opportunity he deserves to compete in a major international tournament. It is a shame of course that he does so at the end of his career, but Giggs has the talent and ability to still influence proceedings. Particularly given that international football is a slower pace than the Premier League which he continues to thrive in. Stuart Pearce has a very tough job though this summer. Britain have been thrown together, they have not played as a team before and lack many real stars. Craig Bellamy, Daniel Sturridge and Micah Richards offer genuine quality, but the rest of the team is inexperienced and at youth level it is key that players are used to each other. This Britain team are not, and football is after all, a team sport. It will be difficult for them to get out of the group.
They will most likely battle for the second qualification spot in the quarter finals with Senegal, who have enjoyed an impressive preparation period, beating Spain 2-0 in a friendly recently. And that is without Papiss Cisse or Demba Ba too, neither of whom are in the squad. The same goes for Moussa Sow. The key player could be Mohamed Diame, who moved from Wigan to West Ham this summer. With a strong and pacey squad, they will doubtless cause problems for their group rivals.
The strongest team in this section is likely to be Uruguay. The Copa America champions are a significant threat to the hosts, boasting as they do a strong team with Luis Suarez, Arevalo Rios and Edinson Cavani spearheading their challenge. With a host of talented youngsters, such as Gaston Ramirez, Diego Polenta, Nicolas Lodeiro and Sebastien Coates, Uruguay should be favourites not just to win this group, but to reach the final of the tournament.
The two times Olympic champions have never won a gold medal that is not in football at the Games. If they win a third gold this summer, expect it to be in this tournament.
Completing the group are the United Arab Emirates, who will likely be the misfits of the group. With a squad consisting of players competing in the domestic league, they will be an unknown quantity for their group rivals, but should pose few threats to Uruguay. Senegal qualified for the Games by beating Oman, so know how to tackle teams from the gulf, and that indicated they should have few problems. The team that may struggle most to break them down could be Britain, but with home advantage, they should win.
Predictions: 1 – Uruguay 2 – Senegal 3 – Britain 4 – United Arab Emirates