Olympic Soccer Scores: What Spain's Elimination Means for Rest of TournamentJuly 31, 2012
Spain entered the 2012 London Olympics as one of the teams to beat in the men's football competition, but after successive losses in their opening two matches to Japan and Honduras respectively, they will be eliminated from the competition.
The result is one that simply nobody predicted.
Spain's squad—packed full of talent and boasting some of the players that won the recent 2012 European Championships—were expected to qualify with relative ease and challenge for at least a medal, if not the gold medal.
Sadly, they will not get the chance to do so.
They were beaten by Japan in the opening round by a score of 1-0—a scoreline that perhaps hid the real truth about Spain on two fronts.
Firstly, Japan's poor finishing and David de Gea's fantastic goalkeeping meant that the scoreline didn't read the three or four goal drubbing that Spain probably deserved. Secondly, Spain played the entire second half with just 10 men, after having a player sent off just before halftime.
Thus we were unable to properly gauge how this Spanish national team were performing—their poor showing was hidden from us to some extent.
However, nothing was hidden as Spain wasted several opportunities before conceding that fatal goal against Honduras—the goal that would ensure they finished in the group stages of the competition.
They will look back on the tournament and wonder what could have been—most likely still in shock about their early exit from the tournament and the fact that, despite the load of talent they had, they were unable to score a single goal before elimination.
Their loss, however, has several implications for the remainder of the tournament—the first of which being Brazil are now the undisputed favorites.
Many would have considered the South American giants to be the gold medal favorites before the tournament anyway, but now that Spain is out of the picture, Brazil are now truly the team to beat and the team that everyone is watching. Their attack is firing, and they appear, for now anyway, to have too much skills and class throughout midfielder for their opponents to handle.
However, Spain's elimination also opens up the door for either Japan or Honduras to make a serious challenge for a medal position in the tournament.
Both have shown they were good enough to dispose of Spain and their final round matchup will give us a good indication of the team most likely to make a run in the competition. Whoever wins that matchup and qualifies first from Group D is, for me, the dark horse of the competition.
You could also make an argument that Spain's elimination helps the likes of Belarus and Egypt—essentially whoever finishes runner-up in Group C. Instead of playing Spain, who many assumed would be the winner of Group D, they will now play either Japan or Honduras, which must be seen as an easier option than taking on the European champions.
Thus Brazil, Japan, Honduras, Belarus and Egypt are all likely to benefit from Spain's inevitable elimination from the 2012 London Olympics, with Brazil in particular the biggest winners from their opening round losses.
Spain's elimination has had a profound impact on the tournament and will continue to do so throughout the knockout stages of the competition. Just what impact that is, well, that still remains to be seen.
What did you make of Spain's group stage elimination?
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