Olympic Games preview: Group D
Published: 26.07.12 / Written by: David Gold
Spain will be the clear favourites to advance from a section which, like Brazil’s, should not pose them too many problems.
The Spanish are aiming to continue their complete dominance of world football by claiming gold for the first time since 1992 this summer. Having won basically everything in recent years – European Championships, the World Cup and under 19 and 21 European titles, Spain would underline what is an astonishing generation of talent with victory in London. But they will eventually come up against the Brazil team which their under 20 side lost to in last year’s World youth Cup.
With Juan Mata, Adrian Lopez and Javi Martinez their over age players, the young talents of Iker Munian will be complemented well. It sets up for an intriguing battle between the Spanish, Uruguay and Brazil for the gold medal this summer. The quality of their respective squads is by some distance greater than any of their rivals at the Games this summer, and it would be a major shock if it was not one of those three taking home gold. Spain have as good a chance as anyone.
Elsewhere in the group are Honduras, who came through CONCACAF qualifying impressively at the expense of the United States. Their best known player is Wigan’s Maynor Figueroa, whilst Andy Najar should be a threat for the other teams in Group D. The prodigious youngster was brought up in the US but plays for Honduras, where he was born, and could be key for a technically capable team which could make it to the last eight.
They will battle for that spot with Japan, who will hope a clutch of players competing in the Bundesliga come good for them this summer. The likes of Inter’s Yagotomo and Manchester United midfielder Shingi Kagawa will not be there, so it is up to players like Yuki Otsu, Takashi Usami and Maya Yoshida to step up.
It will be a tough ask, and Morocco may be the arguable favourites for second in this group. They chose not to take Marouane Chamakh to London, or rather lure him away from his home to actually play. Younes Belhanda also misses out through injury, but a talented side spearheaded by captain Houssine Kharja should be a tough one to beat. Abdelazziz Barada is a key threat, and did more than anyone to qualify Morocco for the Games. Yacine Jebbour of Rennes should lead the defence, and Morocco have the talent to edge out their rivals for second.
Prediction: 1 – Spain 2 – Morocco 3 – Honduras 4 - Japan