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Richarlison to Asensio: Breakout Stars And Flops From Tokyo Olympics 2020

Brazil defeated Spain 2-1 in extra time to clinch their second consecutive gold medal at the Olympics, giving a thrilling end to a competition devoid of much stardom. Mexico bagged the bronze medal by defeating hosts Japan 3-1. Football at the Olympics is usually considered a dull affair, but this year’s tournament has served as a platform for youngsters to showcase their potential and attract the attention of the clubs worldwide.

We take a look at players who impressed and failed to impress the audience with their skills at the Tokyo Olympics 2020:

BREAKOUT STAR: RICHARLISON

Brazil’s conquest at the Tokyo Olympics has been spearheaded by Richarlison de Andrade, whose five goals contributed to the team’s relatively easy advance to the finals. The Everton forward started his Olympics journey in style by scoring a hat-trick in the fixture against Germany, which Brazil won 4-2. He added another two goals to his tally against Saudi Arabia, as Brazil went on to top Group D. Although he missed a crucial penalty kick against Spain seven minutes before half-time, he kept constant pressure on the Spanish defence.

This is the 24-year-old’s second international success on the international stage – Richarlison had earlier helped Brazil win the Copa America in 2019, and took the team to the finals of 2021 Copa America, where they were defeated by Messi’s Argentina. With his success at the international stage, the youngster will be keen on making his mark in the upcoming season of the Premier League.

BREAKOUT STAR: SEBASTIAN CORDOVA

Mexico’s bronze medal is only their second medal in soccer at the Olympics, and they have to thank the skills of Sebastian Cordova for the medal. The 23-year-old midfielder has stayed out of the limelight of European clubs so far, but his achievements at his club America have been exemplary. In recognition of the talent the youngster possesses, America have given him the No. 10 jersey – the first homegrown talent to be given the jersey in the club’s history. At the international stage, Cordova helped Mexico to win the 2020 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship by scoring four goals and finishing the tournament as its top scorer.

Cordova opened his account at the Olympics with a goal against France, as Mexico went on to thrash them 4-1 in the fixture. He scored twice in the quarter-final against South Korea and played a significant supporting role in the midfield. Although the Mexicans were defeated by Brazil in the semis, Cordova once again led Mexico to clinch the bronze by scoring the opening goal against Japan.

BREAKOUT STAR: AMAD DIALLO

A lot of eyes were on Amad Diallo, the 19-year-old Ivory Coast winger who joined Manchester United for a substantial fee earlier this year. Solskjaer’s bet on the teenager seems to be turning out right as Diallo’s performance at the Olympics was extraordinary – he was at the heart of Ivory Coast’s advancement to the semi-finals ahead of a much stronger Germany.

Of particular mention is Diallo’s superb pairing with Eric Bailly – the duo managed to hold back both Brazil’s attackers and Germany’s midfield to level both the fixtures. A 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia, in which Diallo made an assist, propelled the Elephants into the quarter-finals. The teenager’s impressive performances at the international stage might augur well for his chances to make the starting XI at Old Trafford.

FLOP: MARCO ASENSIO

Despite making his debut for Spain in 2016, Marco Asensio has failed to spark so far at the international stage until now. The 24-year-old had been included in the Olympics squad, and the Real Madrid winger failed to shine for the team despite scoring the winning goal in the semi-finals. Carlo Ancelotti is keen to give up the youngster, and his performance at the Olympics gives more reasons for Real to let him go before the season.

After receiving some criticism from pundits for playing too conservatively in the group stages, Asensio played more aggressively in the quarter-finals, but could only manage 35 touches before being substituted in the 68th minute. He was instrumental in Spain’s semifinal against Japan as he breached Japan’s steadfast defence in the 115th minute to take Spain to the finals. He once again failed to create any chances for the team from the right wing – managing just 25 touches and had to be substituted in half-time.

Asensio is by no means a write-off, but for a man once tipped to win the Ballon d’Or, the Spaniard is in increasingly stormy waters. He has to find a new home soon, especially as Real Madrid are looking to strengthen their team ahead of the next season.