When Great Britain boss Stuart Pearce decided to pit his team against Brazil, the favorites heading into the 2012 London Olympics, he had his heart in the right place (via Mirror Football):
I think the best thing to do is take the favourites on. When the game was put to me—'Do we want to take Brazil or do we want to take somebody on who, on paper, are slightly lesser?' I said I was more than happy to take Brazil on.
That's a great idea in theory, but far from genius in practice.
The last thing Pearce can afford is for his team to come out against Brazil and get smacked in the face. That is the most glaring danger that comes along with playing against the competition favorite before the competition even starts.
A bad loss can demoralize a team before it even has a chance to get any momentum. Of course, it's reasonable that Pearce wants to match his team up with Brazil to gauge where his team is at, but it shouldn't be so close to the actual competition.
Great Britain can't afford for the team to be destroyed before the Olympics even start because it hasn't participated in Olympic soccer in over 50 years. Pearce and company won't have much luck against the younger, faster, more talented Brazilians.
There's not an argument that can be made to say that Ryan Giggs, Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge, Tom Cleverley and Craig Bellamy can beat the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Hulk, Pato, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura and Marcelo. Brazil hasn't been labeled as the favorite without reason.
Which team will win this match?
Neymar is the man to watch—not just on the Brazilian side, but on both. At just 20 years old, he's scored nine goals in 18 appearances for the senior club. The Santos forward is going to be a huge problem for Great Britain, especially because he'll be looking to make a statement, as Brazil has never won an Olympic gold medal and will be looking to start the campaign off on the right foot.
The Great Britain side should have taken a bit more time to work on their team chemistry before stepping onto the pitch with Brazil. The Brazilians haven't had an excessive amount of practice together, but some have played with each other in other competitions.
Great Britain is going to have the home-field advantage, but that doesn't matter when a team is so overmatched by its opponent. Despite their youth and inexperience, Brazil is the far superior team, and they will prevent Pearce and company from getting the positive result that they seek.