Remember the sheer ecstasy and joy in the Maracanã Stadium when Neymar Jr. netted the winning penalty kick at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 to secure Brazil the men’s football gold medal?
It’s a moment German fans would rather forget, as their team were on the losing end then. But now, at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021, the two teams will meet again on the very first day of men’s competition on Thursday, 22 July, at the International Stadium Yokohama.
Hosts Japan are also in action on Thursday, taking on South Africa in a Group B clash at the Tokyo Stadium, as excitement grows in the country. Spain-based KUBO Takefusa, widely tipped as the next Japanese star as he is contracted to Real Madrid, will be in action.
Other men’s football matches on 22 July are: Mexico vs France in Group A, New Zealand vs Republic of Korea and Honduras vs Romania in Group B, Egypt vs Spain and Argentina vs Australia in Group C, and Côte d’Ivoire vs Saudi Arabia in Group D.
Teams had to name under-24 squads, with up to three overaged players. Most of the squads named include full internationals among their overaged players.
While Brazil will not have Neymar Jr. this time, they can count on two-time FIFA World Cup stalwart Dani Alves. The 38-year-old has 118 full Brazil caps to his name.
Germany, meanwhile, have included 14-cap Max Kruse of Union Berlin, Wolfsburg’s Maximilian Arnold and Nadiem Amiri of Bayer Leverkusen as their three overaged players, all with international experience to their name.
France have 2018 FIFA World Cup winner Florian Thauvin in their team, while Mexico’s goalkeeper for the Olympics is Guillermo Ochoa, a four-time World Cup participant who has won 114 caps for his country since 2005.
Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos lead a strong Spanish team which includes goalkeeper Unai Simón, fresh off helping the senior national team reach the semi-finals of the European Championships.
Hosts Japan have included national team captain YOSHIDA Maya and his 2018 FIFA World Cup teammates SAKAI Hiroki and ENDO Wataru as their three overaged players.
The three overaged players for Côte d’Ivoire are Eric Bailly of Manchester United, Franck Kessie of AC Milan, and Sivasspor’s Max Gradel, who have 172 senior international caps between them.
Other teams with European experience include Egypt, who have called up Ahmed Hegazy (formerly of Aston Villa in England); Republic of Korea’s HWANG Ui-jo (Bordeaux in France); and New Zealand (Burnley’s Chris Wood).