It will be intriguing to know for the fans that football at the Olympics has more history than the FIFA World Cup. It has been played at every edition of the Games since 1900 except the one in 1932. In 1992, the organising committee brought in a major change as the emphasis was placed on the development of younger players. Only players aged below 23 years are allowed to play with the exception of three over-aged players, who can be part of the squad.
So far, football at the Olympics 2020 has brought some excitement to the fans and the standard has been pretty high. Both the Men and Women have put on a great spectacle for the world.
In this piece, we are looking at how the knockout-phase panned out at the 2020 Olympics.
The six teams that qualified for the quarter-finals in the Women’s football event were Canada, Brazil, the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands. The eight remaining nations in the competition put on a hotly-contested show and most matches went down to the wire. Apart from the Sweden vs Japan match, all the other matches needed more than 90 minutes to decide a winner. In the end, it was Sweden, Canada, Australia and the USA who emerged victorious and went through to the final four of the tournament.
When it came to the Men’s tournament, it was Spain, Ivory Coast, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil, Egypt, the Republic of Korea and Mexico who progressed through the group stage. The match between Spain and Ivory Coast was the highlight of this round as Spain eventually nicked the game 5-2 in extra time. Along with Spain, Japan, Brazil and Mexico booked their place in the semi-finals of the 2020 Olympics.
In the all-important semi-finals, in the Women’s tournament, it was the USA up against their neighbours Canada and Australia taking on Sweden. The USA were favourites of this competition and against all odds crashed out against Canada via a 0-1 defeat. The result of the second semi-final was the same as Sweden pipped Australia 0-1 this time.
In the Men’s competition, it was the defending champions Brazil up against Mexico and Spain taking on Japan. Brazil needed the penalty shootouts to book a place in the final while Spain defeated Japan 0-1 in a contest that went to extra time.
BRONZE MEDAL PLAYOFF
The bronze medal match in the Women’s competition was between the USA and Australia. It was an end to end encounter that provided plenty of goals and entertainment for the fans. The USA were the worthy winners and clinched the bronze medal with a 3-4 win.
In the Men’s leg, Mexico beat the host country Japan to take the bronze medal home. This became one of the four bronze medals they managed to get their hands on in the 2020 Olympics.
The final was beautifully set up in both the Men’s and the Women’s tournaments, as the best two teams were competing for the gold medal. It was Sweden vs Canada in the Women’s tournament while Spain took on defending champions Brazil in the Men’s competition.
The Women’s final saw both teams give it their all on the field and even 120 minutes weren’t enough to separate the two teams as the match finished 1-1 after extra time. It was down to penalties to see which team would take the elusive gold medal home. It was the Canadian team that kept their nerves when it mattered the most and emerged as Olympic champions, while Sweden settled for a silver medal. But the Swedes have plenty to be proud of given what they achieved in this tournament.
The Men’s match saw a similar sort of a competitive streak as the match went to extra time to decide the winner. Brazil went into halftime leading courtesy of a goal by their number 9, Matheus Cunha. Spain came into the second half stronger and Mikel Ozyarzabal levelled the scoring for La Roja. It took Malcom to come off the bench for the defending champions to get Brazil their seventh gold medal of the campaign.
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