Olympic Soccer 2021: TV Schedule, Live Stream and Thursday Match TimesJuly 21, 2021
The 16-team Olympics men's soccer tournament kicks off Thursday across a handful of venues in Japan.
The men's Olympic soccer competition is an under-23 tournament. Countries are allowed to bring three overage players to round out the squad.
Thursday's slate is headlined by a gold-medal game rematch from 2016 between Brazil and Germany. The Brazilians captured first place on home soil five years ago.
Dani Alves and Richarlison are the two main individual attractions in that matchup. Alves is one of the most notable overage players participating in the tournament.
Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa and France's Andre-Pierre Gignac were also called in as overage players by their respective nations to play in Japan. El Tri and Les Bleus will play the second game on Thursday's slate in a showdown between the two front-runners to win Group A.
The format for the men's soccer tournament is very simple. The top two teams from each of the four groups will advance to the knockout phase. The gold-medal match is scheduled for August 7.
Thursday Olympic Soccer Schedule
Group C: Egypt vs. Spain (3:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel)
Group A: Mexico vs. France (4 a.m. ET, USA Network)
Group B: New Zealand vs. South Korea (4 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
Group D: Ivory Coast vs. Saudi Arabia (4:30 a.m. ET)
Group C: Argentina vs. Australia (6:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel)
Group B: Honduras vs. Romania (7 a.m. ET)
Group A: Japan vs. South Africa (7 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
Group D: Brazil vs. Germany (7:30 a.m. ET, USA Network)
Games can be live-streamed on the NBC Sports app and NBCOlympics.com.
Brazil vs. Germany
Brazil and Germany have developed quite the history in major international tournaments over the last decade.
The Selecao got the best out of Die Mannschaft five years ago in a penalty shootout to win the gold medal.
Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Serge Gnabry were among the stars in that championship match, but a new set of players will introduce themselves to the rivalry with first place in Group D on the line. Thursday's winner will likely take first place, with Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia viewed as weaker sides in the four-team group.
Alves is expected to be Brazil's defensive stalwart, but most of the attention paid to the reigning champion will come in attack. Richarlison (Everton), Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin) and Antony (Ajax) are all coming off strong club seasons.
Cunha and Antony could further boost their profiles on the international level with strong outings in Japan, but just getting into the starting lineup will be a tough task with Richarlison and Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli among the attacking options.
Germany's new generation of stars will try to quell the threats posed by the South Americans. Germany won the 2017 U-21 Euros and advanced to the championship match of the 2019 U-21 Euros.
Bayer Leverkusen's Nadiem Amiri was an integral part of those squads. He was viewed as such an important player within the group that he was added as an overage player at 24.
Germany brought the Union Berlin pair of Max Kruse and Cedric Teuchert to Japan. They will be asked to be the team's primary goalscorers. Kruse bagged 11 tallies in the Bundesliga last season.
All but one member of the German squad plays in the domestic league, but none of them are rostered by Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. A strong Olympic tournament could be used as a springboard to an impressive Bundesliga campaign and a potential move up the food chain of German soccer.
The Group D showdown should be one of the tightest matches of the competition, but Brazil gets the slight edge because of its depth and experience in attack.
It is one thing for Germany to have success at the youth level in Europe, but building on that success against a wildly talented Brazilian attack may be too much.
Mexico vs. France
Mexico faces a difficult Group A opener with France, but a result for El Tri is still possible.
Ochoa is one of the most experienced players in the competition, and he could come up with one or two game-changing saves over the 90 minutes.
The owner of 114 international appearances has a squad of Mexico's best young stars playing in front of him, some of whom could be key pieces in the nation's FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign that starts this fall.
Diego Lainez is the only player on the Mexico roster based outside of Liga MX. The 21-year-old with three international goals plies his trade with Real Betis in Spain. Lainez should be the focal point of France's back line, which should have some new faces in it.
Les Bleus won the 2019 U-21 Euros, but manager Sylvain Ripoll has only brought three members of that squad to the Olympics.
The most fascinating matchup in this contest will pit Andre-Pierre Gignac against Mexico's center backs.
Gignac plays for Tigres in Liga MX, so the Mexican defenders may have an advantage over France's other opponents because they are aware of the 35-year-old's tendencies in and around the box.
If Ochoa shines in net and the Mexico defense keeps Gignac at bay, the North American side could come away with three points or a draw at minimum to put it in a good place for knockout-round qualification.