Olympic Soccer 2012 Finals: Leandro Damiao the Man to Stop for Brazil
Heading into the gold-medal match at the London 2012 Olympics, there's little doubt that Brazil are the clear favorites to clinch the title and take with it their maiden Olympic gold medal.
Their attack is simply too strong, too deep and too talented to be stopped—regardless of whether Mexico borrow the bus that Chelsea used in the Champions League or not.
Think about it for a minute.
Brazil are on the counterattack through the middle of the pitch, and you've got to pick up a man. There are yellow shirts flying everywhere, and you've got to make a split-second decision about which viable attacking option to try to remove.
Do you take Hulk—the £60 million-rated Porto striker who has proven his ability to destroy defenses from all across the park? Do you try to remove his dynamic finishing and quick feet from the equation?
Or maybe you're better off trying to take out Oscar—Chelsea's latest recruit in the summer transfer window and the player that seemingly holds this Brazilian outfit together. In theory, by taking him out, you're going to negate some of the flow Brazil's attack and cut off one of their best passers.
In theory, that is.
The problem with that is that you're leaving open Neymar—arguably the most raw and exciting talent in world football and without doubt the best dribbler on the planet. HIs quick feet and incredible finishing skills mean that you simply can't leave him alone in attack.
Maybe Lucas Moura has come off the bench, or maybe Ganso or Sandro is contributing to the attack and looking like a goal-scoring threat.
Now you've just seen Rafael da Silva fly down the right wing as Hulk cuts infield. Is he going to end up with the ball? Should he be picked up? Is it worth leaving Neymar for him?
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The question as to which player you'd try to stop is an interesting one and one that in reality differs from situation to situation, scenario to scenario. You can never make a blanket statement and say that you pick up Neymar every time or Oscar every time because the situation does change and different defending reactions are required.
Having said that, at the London 2012 Olympics, there is one player that you can try to shut out every single time. There is one player that is proving himself as the man to stop for Brazil.
It's not Neymar; it's not Oscar. It's not even Hulk.
Leandro Damiao is the man to stop for Brazil.
He is the man scoring the goals, and he is the man that is finishing the brilliant work done right across the pitch. He is the player that is the go-to forward in attack and the one whose goal-scoring ability is crushing defenses right throughout the tournament.
His power in attack is only emphasized further by the under-23 tournament, and the six goals he has scored so far in the competition are testament to the dominance he is having at the Olympic Games.
So if I have one chance to stop one attacker, I'm stopping Damao because he is the man to whom Brazil are going in attack. I would go to him above every other player in this Brazilian side with the knowledge that he is the man to stop.
Or try to stop, anyway.
Who is the man to stop for Brazil?
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