London 2012 Soccer: Most Compelling Storylines from Gold-Medal Games
You want storylines? The Olympic gold-medal games in soccer have plenty of juicy storylines.
From countries looking to win the first gold in soccer in their histories to one country with a healthy dose of revenge on the mind, the four teams gunning to win gold have plenty of motivation to do so.
These games won't lack elite talent on the pitch, with top players like Neymar, Thiago Silva, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Homare Sawa highlighting two star-studded finals. Let's take a look at some of the top storylines in these Olympic finals.
Neither the Brazilian or Mexican Men Have Ever Won Gold
It's hard to imagine that the Brazilians have never won gold at the Olympics, but it's true. The five-time World Cup winners and two-time silver medalists look poised to end that drought this year, however, with a stacked team including such stars as Neymar, Hulk, Thiago Silva, Oscar, Leandro Damiao and Marcelo.
Mexico has never so much as made an Olympic gold-medal game, let alone won one. They've also never reached a World Cup final, meaning Olympic gold in London would be by far the country's finest football accomplishment.
But it may be a tall task, as top player Giovani Dos Santos may not be able to go after leaving the semifinal game against Japan.
Giovani Dos Santos: "I felt a sharp pain (in leg). I hope to be ready for Saturday. Nowfor recovery and a lot of treatment."— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) August 7, 2012
One way or another, history will be made in this one.
The U.S. Women Want Revenge After the 2011 World Cup Final
It's the game fans have wanted all along—the United States against Japan in a rematch of the 2011 World Cup, which Japan won in penalty kicks. To say the United States wants revenge on Japan is an understatement of epic proportions.
Even Japan's coach, Norio Sasaki, knows the U.S. will be plenty motivated (via Reuters):
We won the World Cup so it follows our players are very strong, but maybe the idea of avenging the defeat and the power of the U.S. team might mean they have a greater incentive, greater drive.
So the question for us is, how much stronger is our desire to win than theirs. It is very strong. We are going to have to be at our very best to win, but I believe in my team. I have the highest expectations of them and I am sure they can meet them.
Megan Rapinoe went so far as to note that Japan "snatched our dream away" when talking about the 2011 World Cup final, so you know this U.S. side is hungry for a chance to even the score.
Here's hoping they do it in as exciting a fashion as the team's semifinal win over Canada.
The Japanese Women Have Plenty of Motivation Themselves
While the women's soccer tournament has only been contested four times at the Olympics, the United States holds three gold medals. Do you know how many medals the Japanese have accumulated in those four tournaments?
Which game are you more excited to watch?
That will end in London, as the worst the Japanese ladies can do is earn a silver medal. But surely, they will want to earn the first gold medal the country has ever won in soccer. The best the country has ever done in its history is win bronze, when the men accomplished that feat in Mexico City in 1968.
But a World Cup victory followed by Olympic gold?
Oh, how sweet that would be for Japan.
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