Olympic Men's Football: 10 Bold Predictions for South Korea vs. Brazil
The semifinals of the London 2012 Men's Olympic Football Tournament are just around the corner, and an exciting encounter at Old Trafford in Manchester awaits. It's Hong Myung-Bo's South Korea vs. Mano Menezes's Brazil.
Both teams had it tough in the quarterfinals but prevailed. Great Britain's Daniel Sturridge became Santa Claus on Saturday and gave South Korea an early Christmas present in the form of a saved penalty. As for Brazil, a Leandro Damiao brace was the difference in their 3-2 victory over Honduras.
The winner of this contest heads to Wembley against either Mexico or Japan for the gold. Kickoff for this Tuesday night showdown in the Theatre of Dreams is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. BST (2:45 p.m. ET). Here are 10 bold predictions for South Korea vs. Brazil.
1. A Defensive Struggle: Under Five Goals Will Be Scored
Brazil was engaged in a goal festival with Honduras but will not have such a shootout against a South Korean side that is very tenacious defensively. Under five goals will be scored on Tuesday night at Old Trafford.
2. At Least Five Saves from Gabriel Against Japan
Brazil goalkeeper Gabriel started against Honduras and struggled to hold off La Bicolor Olimpica on Saturday. Gabriel will need to put on a much better performance against South Korea, who have some offensive firepower in their own right. At least five saves will be made by Gabriel.
3. Jung Sung-Ryong with at Least Five Saves Against Brazil
Jung Sung-Ryong is a goalkeeper that likes to play mind games with the opposition. It doesn't matter who he faces: He will make his saves thanks to his 6'3" frame and long arms. Jung will be tested by Brazil, though, and he will make at least five saves, thus making this a night of fantastic goalkeeping.
4. Brazil Will Dominate the Stat Sheet
In their quarterfinal match, Brazil led Honduras in possession (56 to 44 percent), shots (16 to 10) and corners (four to two). A more accurate performance will be required from Brazil to secure their place in the gold-medal game.
5. Neymar Opens Up the Scoring in the First 20 Minutes
Arguably the star of Brazil's lineup is Santos' very own Neymar, who has three goals in this tournament. Neymar will open up the goalscoring within the first 20 minutes of the contest.
6. Leandro Damiao on the Scoresheet for Brazil
However, Brazil's top goalscorer is not Neymar. It's Sport Club Internacional striker Leandro Damiao, who has four goals in this tournament. In 58 league appearances for Inter, Damiao has 24 goals under his belt.
Leandro Damiao will look to make it five goals in the Olympics against South Korea.
7. Ji Dong-Won on the Scoresheet for South Korea
Sunderland striker Ji Dong-Won opened the scoring in the 29th minute against Great Britain in the quarterfinals and will get on the scoresheet again against Brazil.
At Sunderland, Ji has had limited playing action, scoring two goals in just 19 league appearance. His performance against Brazil could boost his argument for more playing time in the Premier League.
8. At Least 30 Fouls and Seven Yellow Cards Will Be Called and Issued
It was an ugly contest between Brazil and Honduras, as La Bicolor Olimpica finished with nine men. Eleven yellow cards were issued, including two second yellow cards for Honduras.
This match is not going to be any different. The match referee will need to establish order and lay down the law, and he will do so. At least 30 fouls will be whistled, and at least seven yellow cards will be issued. This match is going to get out of hand fast.
9. First Half Will End in a 1-1 Draw
Aside from the physical play, it's going to be a quiet night in terms of goalscoring production. The first half between Brazil and South Korea will end in a 1-1 draw.
10. Brazil Dominate in Second Half to Play for Gold
In the second half, Brazil will show to the fans at Old Trafford why it deserves to be in the gold-medal match. Two second-half goals—one from Neymar and one from Damiao—are enough for Brazil to take on Mexico in the gold-medal match at Wembley.
Brazil. Mexico. Gold-medal match at Wembley. Aside from the FIFA World Cup Final...it doesn't get any better than this.
Brazil 3, South Korea 1