- The competition kicks off the group stage in Japan on Thursday with Spain vs Egypt at 6:30 am ET
- Spanish squad includes several stars of Euro 2020 while Brazilian holders are led by veteran Alves
- See all odds, best bets and preview of the Olympic Men’s Soccer Tournament below
Spain won its only Olympic men’s soccer gold medal on home soil in Barcelona back in 1992.
Now it is the slight favorite ahead of current reigning champions Brazil to land the title in the forthcoming Games in Japan. The tournament starts on Thursday.
The leading contenders, meanwhile, also include France, Germany and Argentina.
Olympic Men’s Soccer Odds
Odds taken on July 20 at DraftKings
Four initial groups of four teams will meet each other once.
Then, subsequently, the top two finishers in each group advance to the knockout quarter-finals.
Furthermore, the competition is for under-23 age group teams. However, three over-age players are allowed.
For example, this means that Brazil has called up the veteran former Barcelona defender Dani Alves at the age of 38. He will, accordingly, lead the challenge to retain the gold medal.
Spanish Squad Has Call-Up Boost
It is Spain, however, which has a huge advantage because clubs in La Liga are forced by law to release players for the Olympic tournament.
This is not the case among the other leading nations.
Dates, kick-off times and host cities – here's the full schedule for the men's and women's football tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics 🥇
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 14, 2021
The law means, for instance, that the Spanish squad includes several notable performers from Euro 2020.
Impressively, the line-up, therefore, includes goalkeeper Unai Simon along with defenders Pau Torres and Eric Garcia.
The exciting teenage midfield prospect Pedri of Barcelona and forward Mikel Oyarzabal have also been selected.
Dani Olmo, another star at Euro 2020, has also been released by his German club Red Bull Leipzig.
Japan men's football captain Maya Yoshida has urged Olympic organisers to reconsider the move to stage the Tokyo Games behind closed doors…https://t.co/vk9DEG8vUt
— AS English (@English_AS) July 18, 2021
Certainly, the under-23 format is particularly beneficial to the Spanish squad.
This is because the nation so prolifically produces talented young performers.
Meet Facundo Medina 🇦🇷
He's the Argentine centre-half that Mitch Duke and co will be tasked with getting past on Thursday night when the Men's Olympic Football Tournament kicks off.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) July 20, 2021
However, despite this boost for Spain’s chances, the oddsmakers at DraftKings make it only a slight favorite to win the title at +250; with holders Brazil at +300.
Then come France at +450 with Argentina and Germany at +650.
The Olympics men's football tournament:
Group A : Japan, South Africa , Mexico, France
Group B : New Zealand, Korea Republic, Honduras, Romania
Group C : Egypt, Spain, Argentine, Australia
Group D : Brazil, Germany, Côte d'Ivoire and Saudi Arabia pic.twitter.com/CC2auRSlzQ
— YOUPLAY // sports media (@youplay_fr) July 13, 2021
The host nation, Japan, is, meanwhile, priced at +900.
Spain is in Group C along with Argentina, Australia and Egypt.
The group commences with Spain meeting Egypt at 3:30 am ET in the tournament’s opening game on Thursday. Later, the Argentines take on Australia at 6:30 am.
Argentina was the gold medallist in 2008 with a team that included Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero.
It is not as strong this time around. But a lot of attention will focus on the 20-year-old forward Thiago Almada of Velez Sarsfield.
He has attracted a lot of interest from Europe’s big clubs.
Olympic Men’s Soccer Recent Winners
Brazil Bolstered by EPL Stars
Brazil defeated Germany at the 2016 final in Rio De Janeiro on penalties. It lost the 2012 final against Mexico in London.
This time, it is in Group D with Germany, Saudi Arabia and Ivory Coast.
The Brazilian squad markedly features a strong contingent from the English Premier League.
The EPL players include forward Richarlison of Everton, fellow attacker Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal. Meanwhile, the defensive midfielder Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa is also at the Games.
The squad, furthermore, will have powerful leadership from the veteran Alves.
Brazil meets Germany in an early clash of the powerhouse nations at 7:30 pm ET on Thursday.
The Germans triumphed last month at the Under-21 Euros and were also a winner at that competition in 2017.
Men's football at the 2020 🏆 @Olympics will witness some of the most promising talents on the planet take to the field! 👌
— FOX Sports Asia (@FOXSportsAsia) July 20, 2021
Several of the leading players from last month’s Euros triumph are not in Japan for the Germans.
But a player to watch will be the young winger Ismail Jakobs who has moved from Cologne to Monaco for $11 million.
The German team, meanwhile, will be led by the 33-year-old forward Max Kruse who has scored 85 career goals in the Bundesliga and is currently with Union Berlin.
The veteran Liga MX goal-getter Andre-Pierre Gignac of Tigres UANL is in the French squad.
France Odds-on to Win Group A
Group A is the toughest section with France meeting the dark horse nations of Mexico and Japan along with South Africa.
The veteran Liga MX goal-getter Andre-Pierre Gignac of Tigres UANL is in the French squad. Significantly, he led his team to the final of the World Club Championship against Bayern Munich earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the young forward Nathanael Mbuku of Rennes has been a consistent goal-scorer in international soccer.
Japan has a strong young squad with many players stationed with European clubs – including the 20-year-old Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo.
Mexico was the gold medallist in 2012 and has drawn its under-23 squad largely from home-based players.
— #AsianCup2023 (@afcasiancup) July 17, 2021
However, the winger Diego Lainez who plays for Spain’s Real Betis could make an impact in Japan.
In conclusion, though, it is difficult to see beyond a Spanish triumph at the competition. This is because it enjoys a deep talent pool and the advantage of its enforced call-up policy.
Pick: Spain +250
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