10 Things We Learned from Football at the Olympics
The Summer Olympics gave us two very entertaining football tournaments. The United States women's national team and the under-23 Mexican squad grabbed the gold medals in style.
For two weeks, we saw several bright and upcoming talents that will probably take over their countries' teams. We also got a glimpse of those footballers that may retire soon.
At the end, the expectations were very high for Spain who had to leave after the stage group, Canada gave quite a fight in the women's semifinal match and Brazil couldn't win the gold medal again.
Here are 10 things we learned from London 2012 football tournaments.
Aaron Ramsey Has a Bright Future with Arsenal
An inspired Aaron Ramsey took over Great Britain's midfield more than once. The 21-year-old, who is set to return to Arsenal, couldn't be going through a better moment.
At the Olympics, Ramsey scored twice. One of those goals came at the quarterfinals when Team GB and South Korea had to decide the winner in penalty kicks.
Aaron knows how to open spaces from the center of the pitch and all the way through the right sideline, serving as a winger. When he plays behind the striker, Ramsey becomes a lethal and accurate passer.
With Arsenal, he will have a bright future. He still needs to work on some things, like judging the long-distance passes, but he has what it takes to make it happen.
Abby Wambach Will Break Mia Hamm's Record
She's already the all-time scorer at the Olympics and if she keeps playing like she has been, Abby Wambach has a very good chance to break Mia Hamm's scoring record.
Abby has scored 143 times and is just 15 shy from breaking Mia's record. Wambach, who is 32 years old, has everything on her side.
She has coach Pia Sundhage's trust, is in great shape and has at least three more years to play at her best.
It's just a matter of time for her to surpass Hamm and when that happens, she will be the greatest player the USWNT has had.
Alex Morgan Is the Next Face of the USWNT
Alex Morgan is just what the United States needed: a young and fearless striker. Despite being only 23 years old, Morgan has already proven her greatness.
The Seattle Sounders forward scored three times at the Olympics and her most important goal came in when the time was running out in the semifinal against Canada.
Alex sent the ball to the back of the net with a superb header that left Canada outside the gold-medal match.
USWNT No. 13 proved to be more than a lethal striker; she's also an intelligent passer that knows where her teammates will be, despite not actually seeing them.
Asian Teams Are Getting Stronger
Japan (men's) and South Korea let the world know that they are ready to compete with the best.
London 2012 meant the best performance for Japan since the 1968 Olympics, when they grabbed the bronze medal. The Samurai Blue have a strong defense that only received three goals—one against Mexico and two in front of Japan—and a well-organized midfield.
Meanwhile, South Korea defeated Japan in the bronze medal-match to set its best performance at the Olympic tournament. Before this, the Tigers of Asia reached the quarterfinals in Athens 2004.
Brazil Needs to Mature
If Brazil wants to win the 2014 World Cup, some of these players need to mature. The team is full of young talent that need to put their country before themselves.
Neymar vanished in the final match and Rafael behaved like a spoiled child. But the overage players also suffered. Marcelo and Thiago SIlva were frustrated and lost.
The players are amazing, that's something no one can argue, the problem is that as a group these footballers have a lot of work to do.
Christine Sinclair Has a Lot to Offer
Canada's captain showed us how much she has to offer to the game. She is 29 years old and if she keeps up the good work, she can take her squad to unimaginable places.
Christine Sinclair was the top scorer of the Olympic women's tournament and did what no other player could: scoring three times against the USWNT.
With her hat trick, Sinclair took her scoring record to 143, 72 goals better than her fellow countrywoman Charmaine Hooper, who sits second.
Homare Sawa Was Overshadowed by Youngsters
After the Olympics, Homare Sawa won't play for Japan again. The midfielder won the silver medal and said that she has accomplished enough.
The statement is true. Sawa was a key player at last year's FIFA Women's World Cup when her squad defeated the USWNT in penalty kicks.
But in London, Sawa seemed out of focus. She wasn't the lethal and fast player she used to be. Actually, the youngsters took over the squad.
Yuki Ogimi and Shinobu Ohno were Nadeshiko's figures.
Mexico's Youth System Is Stronger Than Ever
Mexico's first team has let down the fans more than once, but the underage squads have done a marvelous job.
Take for instance the under-17 squad that won the 2005 World Cup and the team that matched the feat in 2011. You also have the under-22 that finished third, also at the World Cup.
Now, the under-23 grabbed the gold medal, which is another sign that the youth systems are better than ever. When these players reach the first team, we will have a great transition and El Tri will have a new mentality.
Neymar Will Move to European Football in 2014
It's true that the Brazilian star didn't have the final match many of us were expecting, but his performance throughout the tournament was fairly good.
Neymar must keep working if he wants to play in a European team. If he moved today, we wouldn't see him in a big club. That's the reason why Santos is the best fit, at least for now.
After the 2014 World Cup, he will leave Brazil; that's for sure.
Spain Lost Due to Overconfidence and Frustration
If there was a favorite to win the gold medal, it was Spain. La Rojita had a fantastic team, full of top players like Jordi Alba, Juan Mata and Cristian Tello.
However, Spain lost two games and tied one, thus finishing fourth in Group D. The first warning sign came against Japan. The Spaniards were so confident that they couldn't crack the Japanese defense.
Frustration hit the squad when they faced Honduras. The Latin American team accomplished a historical victory that left the Europeans outside the tournament. Alba's behavior was embarrassing: pushing and yelling as if that was going to help.
This team needs to understand that mentality is very important. Mexico, Honduras, Japan, Morocco, South Korea and many more don't have their same level of talent, still they accomplished better results because they actually played at their best and believed anything was possible.
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