2012 Olympics: Power Ranking Men's Football Teams After First Group Matches
Olympic football got underway yesterday with every team's first group match.
The tournament got off to a flying start, with some shocking results and a few great team performances that no one saw coming.
True to the nature of this tournament, filled mostly with up-and-coming stars, there was a lot of moving and shaking amongst the team rankings.
So what should we expect from each side throughout the rest of the tournament?
Here is a power ranking of the Olympic football teams through the first group matches.
16. New Zealand
New Zealand only lost their opening match to Belarus 1-0, but it probably should have been much worse.
The Kiwis looked less than convincing in defense and would have conceded at least three more goals had it not been for some fine plays by keeper Michael O'Keeffe late in the match.
With the rest of their group looking strong, don't expect to see New Zealand past the three group matches.
Gabon may have picked up a good point in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland, but the match played out in such a strange way that we might think the draw slightly undeserved and think that the Africans should have done better.
After falling behind early, the Swiss somehow squandered chances to build on their lead and let their defenses down to allow an equalizer at the stroke of halftime.
In the second half, Swiss midfielder Oliver Buff saw his second yellow, but Gabon were unable to capitalize and grab full points.
Gabon's performance was not one to inspire confidence in their chances for rest of the tournament.
It looked like, in all likelihood, that Switzerland side at its best would have run the African's off the field.
When they go up against South Korea and Mexico later in the tournament, they will have to improve.
Morocco enjoyed the better of the play in the opening 45 minutes of their match with Honduras.
In the second half, however, the Africans came unraveled.
After letting in two goals in the span of ten minutes, they suddenly found themselves trailing. Later, they even had defender Zakara Bergdich see red.
The Moroccans did well to find their way back into the match, as they grabbed an equalizer and held on for a point.
However, the match is a bad sign for the rest of their group experience, as they take on Japan and Spain.
Honduras's spirited second-half fightback against Morocco was fantastic.
After all, they had been dominated in the first half, yet found themselves with the advantage less than half-way through the second period.
However, their performance from there was not quite what you would have hoped for.
Within two minutes of taking the lead, they had allowed the Moroccans to get back on level terms.
Further, they were unable to grab the winner despite their opponents being down a man for the final half hour.
Perhaps Honduras will learn as the tournament progresses, but the outlook is not too great with Japan and Spain waiting in the last two group matches.
How Switzerland did not defeat Gabon in the first match is beyond comprehension.
After all, striker Admir Mehmedi was about three yards from goal with a gaping net in front of him on 20 minutes, one simple motion away from putting his team 2-0 up and out of reach.
That miss epitomized the Swiss day, as they wasted a golden opportunity for three points.
They certainly seemed at less than the top of their games, though, and did well to hold onto the draw with ten men.
However, Switzerland must improve before taking on Mexico and South Korea.
Senegal did get the late equalizer against Team Great Britain to draw 1-1, but it is quite perplexing that they were given the chance to do so.
After all, there were at least three occasions when a Senegalese player committed a foul deserving of a sending off and got either a caution or no punishment.
I guess you play the hand your dealt, but Senegal's usage of rough play to get a leg up was not impressive.
We will see if the strategy is sustainable throughout the tournament as they go up against Uruguay and UAE in their last two group matches.
Despite the loss, the United Arab Emirates looked to be one of the surprise packages of the tournament.
The UAE took a shocking lead over Uruguay in the first half and were threatening the entire match.
However, the power of the Uruguayans was just too much as they went on to take it 2-1.
With Team Great Britain and Senegal looking less than impressive in their first match, though, don't be surprised if UAE sneaks through the group.
9. Great Britain
It was a disappointing draw for Great Britain, especially given the surprisingly strong play of the United Arab Emirates against Uruguay.
The Brits can feel a bit hard done by the poor management of the referee, but they have little room for error now through the rest of the tournament.
The hosts now have a fight on their hands to get out of the group.
Spain's shocking loss to Japan was quite disturbing, but one can take solace in a few points.
First, they played quite poorly, which you wouldn't expect to happen again with players of the caliber of theirs.
Further, they did quite well to keep the match within striking distance despite being down a man.
Finally, the other two teams in their group, Morocco and Honduras, were less than impressive in their first match.
Spain should still be favorites to come out of the group, just now in second position.
7. South Korea
The Koreans did pretty well in the first half of their match with Mexico, controlling play.
In the second half, though, they allowed Mexico to get quite a few chances to snatch a winner.
The match was pretty dull throughout, but there is no reason to think the Koreans shouldn't have a great chance to come through the group (especially with Switzerland and Gabon's performances).
Mexico recovered quite well in the second half of their 0-0 draw with South Korea and grabbed the best chances of what was quite a dull affair.
Giovani dos Santos was an influential substitute and should be a big factor in the rest of the Mexicans' tournament.
Expect Mexico to come through Group B with some ease.
Yes, they lost, but Egypt did so quite impressively against Brazil.
With the firepower Brazil possesses on their side, it was not surprising to see them run the doors off of Egypt in the first half, taking a 3-0 lead that looked like it would just grow.
To their credit, though, the Egyptians possessed the ball quite well throughout and turned up the pressure on the Brazilians in the second half.
Two second-half goals proved too little, too late for this match, but Egypt looks to be a dark-horse threat for the rest of the tournament.
It must mean something that Belarus came through Europe to qualify for this tournament.
Yesterday, the eastern Europeans proved that that is true.
Belarus dominated New Zealand in a 1-0 victory that could have and should have been more except for some fine play from the Kiwi keeper.
Perhaps the victory speaks more to the weaknesses of New Zealand, but Belarus look to be in good shape in Group C.
Their match with Egypt will be one to watch.
Beating Spain at any football tournament in this day in age is kind of a big deal.
Japan did that in style yesterday, dominating the match and earning a 1-0 win that could have been more.
Watch out for them through the rest of the tournament.
It was harder than we thought it would be for Uruguay against UAE, but the South Americans got the job done in a 2-1 win.
The likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani make Uruguay a clear favorite for the gold medal.
Marcelo and Thiago Silva played well in defense and coming forward.
You know, these Brazilians look okay.
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