The memories of the London Olympics Final in 2012 have still not faded where the best team of the event – Brazil were stunned by Mexico. That defeat led to the sacking of coach Mano Menezes and the appointment of Luiz Filipe Scolari, who showed a lot of promise but ended up with eggs on his face a year later. Anyhow, anyone knows that Mexico are a nemesis for any team in the Olympics and the semifinal contest would be the tougher one. Indeed, it was a tough contest and this time around, Brazil overcame the Mexican scare.

Brazil reached the final of Men’s Olympic Football for the third consecutive time.

They won the gold medals for the first time in 2016, silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.

Neither Mexico would go for the attack nor counterattack nor unlock the Brazilian defence, rather they would park by bus keeping the defence as much solid as possible and they did not mind the defensive and central midfielders joining the defenders with the intent to frustrate Brazil.

As the match progressed, the Mexican intention was becoming clearer – they would only hold back, stay deep and wait for the transition period to exploit – thankfully, the Brazilian backline was very attentive and for which, the number of threats was not many.

With Paulinho replacing Matheus Cunha, who did not recover for the match, Andre Jardine had changed the style of play a little. Paulinho kept up the pressure on the Mexican defence and got good opportunities until halfway through the first stage, but he lacked the cutting edge like Gabriel Martinelli, who should have been the starter.

The best of them in a great move created from one end to the other until Claudinho’s light trap for Guilherme Arana to dominate and kick to Ochoa’s defence. The Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa would still defend a free-kick from Daniel Alves and shot from Antony.

Without much output, Mexico found space in Brazil’s mistakes in the final minutes of the first half and narrowly missed opening the score in a move with Romo and another, inside the area, by Antuna, in a quick counterattack – after Claudinho’s mistake in the middle.

Again, someone like Reinier Jesus should have been the starter instead of Claudinho.

Richarlison’s header on the crossbar 36 minutes in the second half and the near-miss from the cross added more frustrations and increased the amount of tension among the players and fans.

There were five yellow cards and almost no submissions.

Cesar Montes was also threatened with a head attempt near the end of the match.

Jardine tried to change the team tactics by introducing Martinelli and Jesus, but the Mexicans defended themselves well and the Brazilians’ nervousness was already latent with the goalless draw.

Malcolm replaced Antony – who had a great game on the right flank, linking up beautifully with the skipper Dani Alves, at the start of overtime, and then Matheus Henrique replaced Douglas Luiz, who digested a yellow card.

The match dragged on in extra time, with no opportunities for the two teams, although it was the Brazilian team who took the initiative in the game.

The match would be decided via penalty shootouts and the goalkeeper of Brazil, Santos came big.

The Athletico-PR goalkeeper saved the first kick in the penalty shootout and helped Brazil pass Mexico on penalties by 4-1.

In the maximum penalties, Brazil converted through Daniel Alves, Martinelli, Bruno Guimaraes and Reinier. Mexico’s Eduardo Aguirre and Vazquez wasted opportunities while Rodriguez scored.

“We are saddened not to be in the final but all is not lost,” Mexico midfielder Uriel Antuna said.

“We now have to battle for the bronze medal. We want to take that medal home.”

“We are a family and we fought until the end. Penalties are a lottery and we got the worst of it. We must bounce back and support those teammates that missed the penalties. They have all my support. The team is still united and we are going to fight for that medal.”

“We had chances to win the game in regular time, but it wasn’t possible,” Brazil captain Dani Alves said.

“I think fate wanted it to be that way. I have a lot of respect for the Mexico team, I like them a lot, but only one could go through and, luckily, it was us.”

“Mexico is an opponent that we respect a lot because of the football school they have and how they fight in games. We have already suffered with this opponent. But this is football. We had a very good performance, we suffered when we had to, but I believe we deserved to be in this final.”

“There’s one game left. We need to maintain our focus and concentration. It’s very difficult to win games when you face such different opponents. This requires a vast adaptation. We have a staff that controls that very well and gives us the necessary information and it has given results. We just need to take one more step.”

Brazil coach Andre Jardine added, “We are to be congratulated for the game we played. We took no risks, we were solid. We looked for the goal all the time. The result, to go through on penalties, in my opinion, crowned the team that tried all the time to attack, to qualify in regular playing time.”


“We deserved it, and in the end, that was the feeling we got. If you deserve to win during the game, things happen on penalties. “Mexico have a great level. It’s a team that defends very well and is also very dangerous in attack. It demanded a lot of concentration from us.”

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