Olympics Soccer Draw 2012: Breaking Down Group B

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIApril 24, 2012

Olympics Soccer Draw 2012: Breaking Down Group B

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    The draws for football at the 2012 Summer Olympics have been made, and Group B is sure to produce some drama starting on July 26.

    Mexico is the seeded team in the group and will be the favorite to advance and compete for the gold medal.

    Switzerland will be El Tri's toughest competition, while South Korean and Gabon will hope for a mistake by one of the two favorites to enable them to move to the next round.

    The following slides are a breakdown of what to look for from each nation in Group B.

    Additionally, here is Bleacher Report's overall analysis of the Olympic tournament on the heels of today’s draw. Which players will stand out? Here’s a look at 50 players – men and women – to watch once the competition kicks off.

    If you're interested in the rest of the groups, here's where you can find previews of Group A, Group C and Group D. And this is our breakdown of the Group of Death.


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    Player to watch: Giovani Dos Santos

    The Mexican 2012 Olympic squad will bring many exciting young players to Great Britain and will be one of the favorites to take home the gold.

    The squad won all its games at the CONCACAF qualfiers and earned one of the top four seeds.

    Talented forwards Marco Fabian and Alan Pulido, who both play in the Mexican league, led the dominating performance in the qualifying matches. But senior-squad strikers Giovani Dos Santos and Javier Hernandez may supplant them once the London Games begin.

    Dos Santos, who spent 2011 with Racing Santander, will be 23 when the tournament starts, while Hernandez, of Manchester United, will be 24 and would occupy one of the three slots for over-age players.

    Dos Santos proved that he can perform on an international stage in the 2010 World Cup and he will lead a lethal Mexican attack to a first place finish in Group B.


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    Player to watch: Xherdan Shaqiri

    The Swiss team earned its spot in the Olympic football competition by making it to the finals of the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, where it lost 2-0 to Spain.

    Finishing as a runner up to the world's soccer superpower (and the Olympic favorite), is nothing to thumb one's nose at. Switzerland will come to London with plenty of momentum.

    One player who is in especially good form is FC Basel's Xherdan Shaqiri. The creative winger helped his club knock out Manchester United in the group stage of Champions League, and has Basel comfortably in first place in the Swiss Super League.

    Switzerland will likely be the only team with enough firepower to challenge Mexico, and Shaqiri's piercing runs will be at the center of any upset bid.

South Korea

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    Player to watch: Ji Dong-won

    Few European clubs allowed their South Korean players to leave for the Asian Football Confederation's Pre-Olympic Tournament, and many of the country's more talented players will have to quickly acclimate themselves to the squad's tactics.

    Despite missing some key players, the team still went undefeated in qualifying matches, finishing with three wins and three draws.

    Sunderland's Ji Dong-won was one of the absent players who could bolster the Korean attack, just as he did for his club team with a last-second stunner to beat Manchester City on New Years' Day.

    The 20-year-old striker has the frame and skill to be a dangerous forward and the 2012 Olympic Games may be the stage for his breakout.

    If Ji does not deliver a miraculous performance in London, someone else on South Korea's team will have to if they hope to advance out of this group at the expense of Mexico or Switzerland.


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    Punching Bags

    Player to watch: Andre Biyogo Poko

    The Gabon Olympic football squad will face an uphill battle the moment they step foot in Great Britain.

    The team qualified for the London Games after making an improbable run that culminated in a 2-1 victory over Morocco in the finals of the CAF U-23 Championship

    Gabon just barely made it out of its group at the tournament via a tiebreaker with Ivory Coast, then beat Senegal in the semifinals on a goal by Andre Biyogo Poko in the last minute of the second overtime.

    Poko is one of the few players on the squad who plays in Europe, and is currently signed with Bordeaux. His playmaking abilities will be badly needed if Gabon is to make their performance in London a respectable one.

    In all likelihood, the men from this tiny West African nation will head home without any points.