Olympic Soccer Schedule 2012: Previews and Predictions for Men's Semifinal Games

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Olympic Soccer Schedule 2012: Previews and Predictions for Men's Semifinal Games
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The soccer tournament at the 2012 London Olympics is now heading into the semifinal round, with both games being played on Tuesday, August 7.

Mexico and Japan meet in the first match at 5 p.m. local time. Both teams finished group play with a pair of wins and one tie to move on to the quarterfinals.

Mexico won a hard-fought contest over Senegal with a pair of extra time goals to come away with a 4-2 win. Japan had an easier time in the quarterfinals, notching an easy 3-0 win over hapless Egypt.

Brazil was the only team in the tournament to win every group play match, and followed up its opening dominance with a comeback 3-2 win against Honduras.

Korea moved on from group play despite winning just one game and drawing the other two. The Koreans narrowly advanced past hometown Great Britain by winning a penalty shootout 5-4.

 

Mexico vs. Japan: Tuesday, August 7 at 5 p.m. London Time

The Japanese are one of the big surprises of this tournament, as nobody expected them to advance out of Group D. Fortunately for Japan, wins over Morocco and disappointing Spain solidified its spot in the quarterfinals.

Kensuke Nagai and Yuki Otsu lead the team with two goals apiece, and come into the match against Mexico on a high note after scoring goals in the team's 3-0 win over Egypt.

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Mexico, on the other hand, had looked a bit punchless in the group round with just three goals. The defense was on point, though, refusing to concede a goal in the team's first three games.

The Mexicans brought much more firepower to the quarterfinal matchup against Senegal, in which they found the back of the net four times. The defense wasn't as impenetrable, but it's hard to lose a game while scoring four goals.

Giovani dos Santos is the man to watch in this match. He has scored three of Mexico's seven goals in this tournament, including a 98th-minute, go-ahead goal against Senegal.

Mexico will be the clear favorite on Tuesday, but it would be foolish to count Japan out. Hector Herrera and Dos Santos will give the Japanese defense a headache, but Nagai and Otsu are not to be taken lightly.

 

Prediction: Mexico 2, Japan 1

 

Brazil vs. Korea: Tuesday, August 7 at 7:45 p.m. London Time

Brazil is the obvious class of this tournament, as it boasts a superior crop of young talent in comparison to the rest of the competition. It dominated group play, netting nine goals while only conceding three.

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However, the 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Honduras didn't come easily. The Brazilians found themselves in an early hole before Leandro Damiao scored the equalizer. Honduras' Roger Espinoza put his squad up 2-1 before Neymar and Damiao scored a pair within 10 minutes of each other.

Brazil is so dangerous because of its speed and options. Neymar, Damiao and Hulk are all capable of netting crucial tallies at any given time, and their speed—especially Neymar's—is going to be a huge problem for the Koreans.

Korea hasn't been a juggernaut like Brazil, but its matches have been plenty exciting. After a mediocre showing in group play, the Koreans put the nail in Team GB's coffin in the quarterfinal match with a 5-4 penalty shootout win.

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This team can creep up on their competition and take a lead before the opposition even realizes, but the Brazilians are far and away better than Great Britain or any team Korea has played in this tournament.

Don't expect anything else than a Brazil-Mexico gold-medal match.

 

Prediction: Brazil 3, Korea 1

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