The semi-finals of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament at Rio 2016 sees three heavyweights of past Olympics and FIFA World Cup™ tournaments line up alongside a surprise Central American outfit. Honduras – the only side of the final four never to have won a medal - stand in the way of Brazil’s latest quest for gold, which will be decided at the spiritual home of Brazilian football, the Maracana. 1996 gold winners Nigeria and 1988 bronze-medallists Germany will look to write a new chapter in their Olympic history by sealing passage to the gold medal match in their clash in Sao Paulo. FIFA.com previews the tenth matchday at the Olympic Football Tournaments.
Brazil-Honduras, Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday 17 August, 13.00 (local time)
After 11 games at the 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 combined, A Seleção will finally walk out at the Maracana. Their dream of doing so again in Saturday’s gold medal match will be decided by their performance against Los Catrachos. The Rio 2016 hosts won an entertaining 2012 quarter-final between the pair 3-2, a game in which La H twice led, in the Central Americans’ previous best final ranking at an Olympic Football Tournament.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s side have been a functional mix of defensive solidity - with goalkeeper Luis Lopez in superb form against Korea Republic in the last eight - and electric counter-attacking, with Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Antony Lozano forming a lightning fast front three. They face the so far impenetrable Brazilian defence, with the ever-present back five of Weverton, Zeca, Rodrigo Caio, Marquinhos and Douglas Santos yet to concede at Rio 2016, a six-hour clean sheet so far.
Nigeria-Germany, Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Wednesday 17 August, 16.00 (local time)
When it comes to the Olympic Football Tournament, these sides have to go back some way to reminisce about their glory days. Germany’s best performance came back in 1988 with bronze, two years before their 1990 World Cup win in Italy. They will be hoping for a reversed return to that era and go at least one better by reaching Saturday’s gold medal match, and a return to the Maracana, two years after their 2014 World Cup Final victory at the legendary stadium.
Nigeria’s Olympic success is slightly more recent, a 1996 gold medal by the fabled ‘Dream Team’ the highlight, along with silver in 2008 against a Lionel Messi-led Argentina in Beijing. Just three players at Rio 2016 - Robert Bauer, Julian Brandt and Grischa Promel - featured in the most recent meeting on a global stage between these two nations, the 2015 U-20 World Cup Round of 16 clash, which saw the Germans progress.
Player to watch
Julian Brandt (Germany)
The German No11 will be hoping to follow on from his performance against Nigeria in that U-20 World Cup knockout game, in which he was a menace down both flanks. At Rio 2016, the Bayer Leverkusen winger has yet to get himself on the scoresheet, but has been the standout performer in the German team. He has been at the centre of everything for the Nationalmannschaft, racking up seven assists, with two further goals coming from his shots rebounding out and being slotted home by team-mates, meaning he has been directly involved in close to half of his side’s 19 goals so far. Brandt himself anticipates a difficult game against the unpredictable Africans. “They are positively crazy because they take a big risk,” he told DFB-TV. “I consider Nigeria as offensively strong and very fast.”
8 – The combined number of Men’s Olympic Football Tournament medals between the Rio 2016 semi-finalists, with one bronze for Germany, two bronzes and three silvers for Brazil and a silver and gold for Nigeria. Add to that the nine combined World Cups between Germany and Brazil, and the heavyweight status of three of the final four – and the task at hand for Honduras - is clear to see.
“Maybe they will be a bit similar to the Swedish or Danish teams we faced. We have to make sure we’re ready. We have to make sure we play well and hopefully we do exactly what [coach Samson Siasia] asks us to do. He’s been absolutely amazing with his tactics and with the way he wants us to play.”
John Obi Mikel, Nigeria captain.
Brazil-Honduras, 13:00, Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Nigeria-Germany, 16:00, Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
(All times local)