The men’s Olympic tournament isn’t exactly the pinnacle of international football prestige but it certainly has a role to play on the world stage – as we’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks. Yesterday we had confirmation of what the gold medal match will be with the “main” semi-final between Japan and Spain going right down to the wire.
It was tense, it was nervy and it had a whole lot of drama – but in the end it was the Spaniards who managed to knock out the host nation and move into the final.
They were always going to push themselves beyond what many thought they were capable of, and ultimately, Japan did a fantastic job to reach the semi-finals and actually give Spain a pretty good game. There was a spirit and never say die attitude within their side that was near enough impossible to ignore, and while they may have ran out of gas here, they’ve definitely got a few bright new faces that should make them feel pretty confident about their chances heading into the next phase of qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Spain dig deep
It took a late goal from Marco Asensio to see Spain over the finish line and to say it was nervy would be an almighty understatement. They had to stay as calm and composed as they had in a long time in the midst of what was, in reality, a very tough semi-final. They probably have the best side on paper out of anyone else in the tournament which would’ve put even more pressure onto their shoulders, but this was definitely the kind of win that should breed confidence heading into the final.
Brazil will be waiting for Spain in the final and that’s about as picture-perfect of a final as we could’ve hoped for. We’re talking about two of the most established nations in the game today and in Olympic football, with only one being able to raise that gold medal up high. We’re still expecting Spain to be the ones who win the gold, especially after coming through such a tough challenge, with Brazil’s frailties being on full display thanks to their narrow penalty shootout triumph over Mexico.