The 2020 Olympic Games get underway this week in Tokyo and football fans will be looking forward to Thursday when the men’s tournament kicks off with a string of fixtures.
16 teams will compete for the Olympic gold medal including the hosts Japan and the winners of the 2016 men’s Olympic football tournament, Brazil. The teams have been divided into four groups of four and each team will play other teams in the group once with the top two teams progressing to the knockout stages. This means that eight teams will progress to the quarter-final with the two teams reaching the final playing a total of six matches.
The four groups can be seen below.
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D
|South Africa||South Korea||Spain||Germany
Olympic football works differently to international senior competitions such as the World Cup or European Championships as teams are only allowed to include under-23’s in their squad with the exception of three players who can be of an older age. This makes it somewhat more difficult to predict a winner as you’re unable to use data and trends from previous years in your analysis as it’s likely that the squad will have changed dramatically. However, this makes for an exciting competition and one where you have to look at the individual players in the squad as well as the manager and the style of play in order to determine a winner. Even then, there can be some unlikely contenders as we saw in 2016 when Honduras made the semi-finals and when the semi-final of the 2004 competition featured Iraq v Paraguay.
The big names in this year’s tournament are:
- Spain: 9/4
- Brazil: 7/2
- France: 6/1
- Japan: 8/1
- Argentina: 9/1
- Germany 10/1
Japan are the hosts of the 2020 Olympic games which explains their short odds. However, with no spectators at the matches, the home advantage is somewhat lesser. The bookies have Spain as the clear favourites and they are the stand-out team who are tipped for the gold medal as their squad features no less than six players who featured in their Euro 2020 campaign in which they reached the semi-finals. It’s hard to see past Spain’s squad in terms of quality with Barcelona midfielder Pedri featured as well as Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon. Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal, who all also featured in Spain’s Euro 2020 squad are set to be a part of Spain’s 2020 Olympic football campaign which adds to the reasoning that they could go all the way in the tournament.
Spain last won gold at the Olympics for football in 1992 when they beat Poland 3-2 in a thrilling final which saw Kiko score a last-minute winner for the Spaniards to claim the gold medal. They’re 9/4 to win again this year and despite the relatively short odds, they are the most likely team to do so.
|2020 Olympic Men's Football
One doubt with Spain is that whether they finish top or second in their group, they will play one of the two top-placed teams from Group D which will likely be either Germany or Brazil. It could be a tough route to the final for them and so if you’d rather look elsewhere, I’ve picked out another side that I think will do well.
Mexico are currently priced at 33/1 to win the gold medal at this years Olympics with Boylesports and I think at those odds, they have value. They’re in a relatively tough group with France and Japan but with no crowds i the stadiums, Japan could be overpriced. Should they progress from their group, they will play either the winners or runners-up of Group B that features New Zealand (250/1), South Korea (20/1), Honduras (250/1) and Romania (66/1). If they progress past the quarter-finals then there are only two games to win to clinch the gold medal. Several of the Mexico squad members have featured for the senior international team and so experience is on their side.
|2020 Olympic Men's Football