Olympics Soccer Draw 2012: Breaking Down Group A
With the London 2012 Olympic games drawing closer, the groups for the soccer competition were announced today.
With Great Britain being a footballing nation, there has been considerably more hype than usual surrounding this year's competition. The British land in Group A alongside Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Group A will make for interesting viewing, with a few teams that could provide potential banana skins for each other. The following is a breakdown of what to look for from each nation in the group and a prediction of who will advance.
Additionally, here is Bleacher Report's overall analysis of the Olympic tournament. Which players will stand out? Here’s a look at 50 players – men and women – to watch once the competition kicks off.
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Olympic Medals: Gold - 1908, 1912
Player to Watch: Gareth Bale
This competition has not been the most fruitful Olympic event, with Great Britain's last medal coming 100 years ago.
They have not been involved in the competition since 1960, where they were eliminated in the first round. Despite this, there has been a lot of confidence surrounding this years challenge, with Team GB having the home advantage.
Depending on who makes the cut for England's Euro 2012 campaign, there could still be a wealth of talent available for selection in the Olympics.
Some of these players could include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlan, the Arsenal winger who has been playing out of his skin in recent weeks and Ross Barkley, the highly-rated Everton player.
David Beckham is also reportedly set for a comeback, which will delight British fans, who haven't seen much of the former England captain in action recently.
The man to watch out for must be Gareth Bale, undoubtedly one of the most dangerous wingers in the Premier League. He will be a player that cause any team defensive difficulties.
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Olympic Medals: None
Player to Watch: Lamine Gassama
Senegal haven't had a much success in Olympic football, which is not surprising considering they have only ever won a single medal in any event in their Olympic history. What they do have though is talent running throughout their squad, which makes them a team not to be taken lightly.
They have players from top leagues all around Europe, and their under-23 squad contains a number of players who have full international caps already.
A large portion of their most dangerous looking strikers all play in France, such as Dieylani Fall and Oumar Wade. But Rayo Vallecano midfielder Pape Maly Diamanka looks to be an interesting prospect as well.
It has been reported that Newcastle strikers, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, may not feature in the Olympics, but if they do then Senegal are going to be a real handful.
United Arab Emirates
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Olympic Medals: None
Player to Watch: Ahmed Khalil
I'm sure I'm not the only person who doesn't give the UAE team much hope of progressing from their group. I wouldn't have given them much hope against any teams in the draw, but with a difficult group it looks to be an almost impossible task.
But then again, they qualified, which is no easy task for a country not known for its footballing ability. They defeated Uzbekistan to make it to the the Olympics, with star striker Khalil scoring twice.
The relatively unknown UAE side may surprise me and cause an upset, but I highly doubt it.
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Olympic Medals: Gold 1924, 1928
Player to Watch: Luiz Suarez
One of the bookies' favourites to take the gold, Uruguay are a nation with a rich footballing history.
However, their Olympic record in football doesn't quite match up to their World Cup exploits, with them not having featured in Olympic football since they won gold in 1928.
Their success in this year's competition could rely heavily on which three over-age players they will pick. They have such talent as Luiz Suarez and Edinson Cavani at their disposal, two of Europe's most exciting strikers.
Adding to these two stars, there is Diego Forlan, who has already stated his desire to play at London 2012. One thing that would be guaranteed if these three are selected is goals.
Sebastian Coates, the Liverpool defender, will also feature, and with a solid campaign he could silence some of the critics who have scrutinized his performances in the Premier League.
Group A will be an interesting group to watch, and it's quite difficult to predict it's outcome. But here's how I see the group unfolding:
1st: Uruguay - This result will depend very heavily on which over-age players Uruguay select. With Suarez, Cavani and Forlan up front, they have almost the perfect strike force, and inexperienced defences will find it very difficult to contain them.
2nd: Great Britain - Unfortunately for the British team, a lot of players that may have featured will be making Euro 2012 their main priority. Despite this, the GB squad is still a talented one. I think they will run Uruguay close, and I wouldn't be too surprised if they ended up winning the group.
3rd: Senegal - If Ba and Cisse feature for Senegal, they will be an upstart. But if they don't then I can see Uruguay and Great Britain being a bit too much for them to handle. I do expect them to get points, but I can't see them breaking into the top two.
4th: UAE - Not surprisingly I expect the 2007 Gulf Cup winners to finish bottom, with zero points. I am by no means an expert on Arabic football, but I think each of the three other teams in this group with will have too much in all departments for UAE to cause an upset.