With millions of eyes witnessing the final of the greatest show on earth in Yokohama in 2002, Ronaldo O Fenomeno scored a brace and buried the ghost of Paris to lift the World Cup for Brazil for the fifth time. Nineteen years later, it was time for his followers to repeat the feat at the same venue in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in a nervy contest against one of the best teams of the competition – Spain. Its back to back gold medals for the Selecao and at least, the pain of losing the Copa America Final would relieve a bit.
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 7, 2021
In the major match of the event, there could be no options other than going for glory, and keeping that in mind, Andre Jardine and Luis de la Fuente Castillo, surfaced a very strong side. Brazil had Matheus Cunha back and Ricahrlison back on the left flank while Spain had the services of those hard-nut-to-crack boys, who helped Spain conquer pressure in the group and knockout stages.
Spain relied on their possession-based football, while Brazil relied on their attack-hold-counterattack-buildup-dominate-the-midfield-and-attack-again tactics.
With players like Pedri, Mikel Oyarzabal, Danil Olmo, Martin Zubimedi, Marco Asensio, Oscar Gil, and Mikel Merino at the center of the park and upfront; Spain would keep Brazil on the edge and as the match progressed, Brazil looked to disturb their possession-based football through Douglas Luiz in the middle and Bruno Guimares dictating terms from the midfield.
É OURO! Precisa dizer mais alguma coisa? 🏅⚽🇧🇷
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) August 7, 2021
Cluadinho was playing more centrally and his work was to distribute skillfully to the center, right, and left where Matheus Cunha, Richarlison, and Antony would wait for the kill.
The link-up between Antony and Dani Alves was always a threat for the Spanish side while Cunha pressed hard the Spanish center-backs.
But one man seemed to be feeling the pressure of expectation on him and he was Richarlison.
Spain started lively enough and looked to get on the front foot.
Parabéns família olímpica, qualidade técnica + organização tática + camisa amarela + amor = ouro 🥇 Valeu Galera!!! 👏🏾👏🏾🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/ojy6BUHvYa
— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho) August 7, 2021
In the 16th minute, they almost opened the scoring, after Oyarzabal’s header into the middle of the area, which was deflected by Diego Carlos towards his own goal. However, the defender managed to recover in time and took the ball over the line. The Selecao responded with shots from Douglas Luiz and Richarlison after half an hour mark.
In the closing stages of the first half, Spain conceded a penalty.
Cunha collided with Unai Simon when competing with a cross whipped into the box, with a free-kick initially awarded against the Brazilian.
Richarlison in tears after his Brazil win Gold in Men’s Football. A small step to healing pain caused by missing out on becoming “Champion of Florida Cup” with Everton 🇧🇷 🥇 pic.twitter.com/nlLqbjyhyF
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) August 7, 2021
The match officials were, however, encouraged to review the said incident on a pitchside monitor, with Australian referee Chris Beath deciding that a spot-kick should be the eventual outcome.
Richarlison stepped up to take and, after a staggering run up, blazed his effort high over the crossbar.
Brazil were, however, to get their noses in front two minutes into stoppage-time when Dani Alves kept the ball alive at the back post and Cunha produced a composed finish after slipping between two defenders with a cushioned touch off his chest.
⚽️ Scored in all three of his knockout-phase appearances in Japan. 21 goals in 24 games for the Seleção Olímpica 🤩
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 7, 2021
Then, after the break, Cunha fired Antony, who advanced and kicked low, stopping in the defence of Unai Simon – the attacker, however, was offside.
In the next minute, after a nice exchange of passes, Richarlison received inside the area, cleared the marking, and submitted. The ball touched the foot of the Spanish defender and hit the crossbar.
Before the action, at the interval, Spain made effective substitutions.
— Hussain (@ZairH45) August 7, 2021
After the scares, Spain started to move the ball around and grew in the match.
On the far right, substitute Bryan Gil played for Carlos Soler, who crossed for Oyarzabal. On the back of Daniel Alves, he took the ball first, with no chance of defence for Santos. The Spaniards followed suit against an opponent who looked physically worn out and did not make any substitutions in regular time.
But, still, Brazil regained control from that point and always looked the more likely to find a winner.
Dani Alves has completed football:
6 x La Liga
5 x Spanish Super Cup
4 x Super Cup
3 x Champions League
3 x Club World Cup
2 x Copa America
2 x UEFA Cup
2 x Ligue 1
2 x Confederation’s Cup
2 x French Super Cup
1 x Serie A
1 x Italian Cup
1 x Olympic Gold Medal 🥇 pic.twitter.com/zRMwHGlmcX
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 7, 2021
After 90 minutes and more injury time, Jardine made changes.
Malcom took the place of Cunha and not only renewed the team’s breath but also started to create Brazil’s main chances, at the left-wing.
Two minutes into the second half, Malcom received an excellent pass from Antony, invaded the Spanish danger area, and took a shot with composure. The ball still touched Simon, but ended up in the back of the net. After that, the Spanish pressure was not enough to break the Brazilian resistance and the Canarinhos were the worthy winners.