2012 Olympics Soccer Draw: Analyzing All 4 Groups
The Olympic football draw is out. Now it's time speculate.
Today we're bringing you instant analysis of all four groups in the Olympic men's football tournament.
In case you missed the draw, which happened Tuesday in London, here it is:
Group A: Great Britain, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay
Group B: Mexico, Korea Republic, Gabon, Switzerland
Group C: Brazil, Egypt, Belarus, New Zealand
Group D: Spain, Japan, Honduras, Morocco
Great Britain (as hosts), Mexico, Brazil and Spain were seeded for the draw.
Each qualified nation will enter a team of Under-23 internationals. Each team may invite three over-age players.
Group matches will be played July 26-Aug. 1. The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for Aug. 4, the semifinals for Aug. 7 and the final for Aug. 11 at Wembley.
Which players will stand out? Here’s Bleacher Report's look at 50 players – men and women – to watch once the competition kicks off.
Teams: Great Britain, Senegal, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay
The Skinny: The seeded team in this group is the host—the combined Great Britain team. No one knows yet who will represent Great Britain (the roster hasn't been announced) because the "short" list bears 80 names.
Regardless, Team GB shouldn't lose much sleep over this group.
Senegal became the 16th and final member of the final tournament by beating Oman in a playoff Monday. They reached the playoff by finishing fourth at last year's African U-23 championship.
Read more about their playoff victory here.
UAE is a bit of an unknown despite posting seven wins—including victories over Australia and Uzbekistan—in their 10-match qualifying campaign. Key players include 20-year-old forward Ahmed Khalil, 22-year-old central defender Hamdan Al Kamali and 20-year-old midfielder Omar Abdulrahman.
Finally, Uruguay enters the tournament with impressive name recognition but a mediocre qualifying record. Los Charruas won only four of their nine qualifiers and were outscored 8-12 in the process.
Uruguay's senior squad is packed with household names. The U-23 squad, however, is not as well-known.
Verdict: Whoever plays for Great Britain, they shouldn't have too much trouble advancing.
Teams: Mexico, South Korea, Gabon, Switzerland
The Skinny: This could be a very competitive group.
Mexico was seeded because of their status as the highest-ranked team from the Asia, Africa, Oceania and CONCACAF regions. El Tri won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2011 and finished third at the U-20 event the same year.
At CONCACAF U-23 qualifying, Mexico won all three games and allowed just one goal.
Faces to watch include forwards Alan Pulido and Erick Torres, midfielders Marco Fabian and Hector Herrera and defender Diego Reyes.
South Korea went through qualifying unbeaten. In fact, South Korea's U-23 side is currently riding a 14-match unbeaten run.
Gabon, meanwhile, won the inaugural CAF U-23 Championship. And Switzerland finished second only to Spain in the 2011 European U-21 Championship.
Verdict: This group should be wide open, though you'd expect Mexico to progress.
Teams: Brazil, Belarus, New Zealand, Egypt
The Skinny: Brazil should progress easily.
Belarus finished third at the 2011 Euro U-21 Championship, but they only won two of their five matches.
New Zealand has scored only once all-time in Olympic competition.
Egypt finished only third at the CAF U-23 Championship in late 2011.
And Brazil—well, they're Brazil. It doesn't matter which age group represents the country. The players are always top-notch.
This summer, they'll be led by Neymar, the up-and-coming 20-year-old superstar. At his side will be two more potential superstars in Paulo Henrique Ganso and Leandro Damiao.
Verdict: If you haven't seen what Neymar can do, it's time.
Teams: Spain, Honduras, Japan, Morocco
The Skinny: Spain should cruise.
Even with U-23 players, Spain should have more than enough quality to overwhelm Honduras, Japan and Morocco. Watch out for future (and current) stars like Ander Herrera, Oriol Romeu and goalkeeper David De Gea.
Spain qualified by winning the 2011 Euro U-21 Championship.
Honduras won three and lost two in CONCACAF qualifying, scoring nine goals and allowing eight.
Japan lost just once in qualifying and could present Spain with a stiff challenge.
Morocco reached the 2011 CAF U-23 Championship before losing to Gabon.
Verdict: Look for Spain and Japan to advance.