London 2012: Brazil Beware the Memories of the 1996 Olympics

Ollie TaylorContributor IJuly 24, 2012

31 Jul 1996: Flavio of Brazil slides in to tackle Daniel Amokachi of Nigeria during their match in Athens Georgia at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Nigeria won the match 4-3 in extra time.
David Cannon/Getty Images

Football, especially in the UK, may have overlooked the 1996 Olympics football tournament.

As the eyes of the world descend on London for the 2012 Games, the upcoming football will be subject to much more scrutiny.

Both Games will share one thing in common: the massive expectation placed on the Brazilian team.

In 1996, Brazil's next generation of talent took to Atlanta with the intention of taking gold.

Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Co. stumbled through their group, losing their opener to Japan, before succumbing 4-3 to Nigeria in the semifinal and settling for bronze.

Panic followed.

Dunga, then playing in Japan's J-League, was kept on as captain to tighten up the defence for the 1998 World Cup, which Brazil entered as overwhelming favourites.

The aging skipper went on to fight teammate Bebeto in the opening game, and while Ronaldo carried the team through to the final, Brazil were outclassed in the final by hosts France.

This year, Brazil are in London with similar expectations weighing over them, just as the 1996 squad.

Scrutiny will be even higher: Brazil host the World Cup in 2014, with the opportunity to vanquish the ghost of 1950, in which the side lost the crucial decider to Uruguay in front of 173,000 patriotic home fans at the Maracana.

Neymar especially is already being billed as the next big thing, and stars such as Ganso and Hulk continue to earn plaudits.

Add captain Thiago Silva, who recently signed for Paris Saint-Germain for €42 million into the equation and its clear that Brazil and coach Mano Menezes are taking the Games very seriously.

Regardless of the outcome in London, the Brazilian side should take results in the UK with a pinch of salt, whether that's a gold or an early flight home.

The Brazilian team, of which so much is expected, will do well not to overreact if it doesn't go to plan.