Football at the Olympics
July 25, 2012
The rather understated start to football at the Olympics – with the event kicking off the day before the opening ceremony – aptly summarises most people’s attitude towards the competition. Despite the fact that football is not always associated with the Olympics, Great Britain’s first appearance since 1960 has helped to renew interest in this year’s tournament.
The huge gulf in class between teams means that there is certainly money to be made from this market. The two teams being widely touted as potential winners are Spain and Brazil. Anyone who saw the friendly between Great Britain and Brazil last week will know exactly why the latter are the favourites for the tournament. On paper they have named an extremely strong squad; talented hopefuls Lucas, Neymar and Ganso are backed up by the world-class experience of Pato, Hulk and Thiago Silva. In practice they were just as impressive; they cut through Great Britain’s defence with consummate ease and the 2-0 scoreline was, if anything, flattering towards Team GB. They have come to London seriously intent on winning the gold medal, and it is hardly surprising that they are priced at just 2.54 to do so here.
If Brazil fail to live up to expectations at the tournament, then it is likely to be Spain who win the gold medal. Although many household names are missing from Spain’s squad, they should not be underestimated. Jordi Alba had an impressive tournament at the Euros, and Juan Mata’s five-minute cameo appearance in the final provided enough time for him to score. These two are joined by Javi Martinez and a pool of promising youngsters threatening to continue Spain’s domination of world football. Priced at 3.55 they present a slightly more appealing proposition than Brazil. You can expect them to at least make the final, by which time this price will have shortened.
Potential outsiders who present a better opportunity for profit are Mexico and Uruguay. These sides will both expect to advance from their respective groups and from there, anything is possible. Uruguay have named strikers Suarez and Cavani in their team, along with a wave of young players such as Abel Hernández who the Uruguayan press have great faith in. Despite defeating Great Britain 1-0 in a private pre-tournament friendly, Mexico are priced at 19.5 to win the tournament and Team GB at 14.5. If Mexico can replicate that level of performance they will make light work of their opening fixture and their group in general. Their price to win the tournament will drop considerably if and when they advance from the group, presenting a decent lay opportunity.
Team GB can be expected to make use of home advantage to qualify from their group, but it is difficult to see them being able to cope with real quality opposition in the tournament. The experience of Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy will of course prove useful, but Aaron Ramsey seriously struggled in the playmaker role for Arsenal last season. The side will be relying on Daniel Sturridge to create a spark in their opening match against Senegal.