Group A of the men’s football saw hosts Brazil join South Africa, Iraq and Denmark for the first stage of the competition. Brazil are aiming for their first ever gold in football at the Olympics and Denmark are looking to impress following their semi finals appearance at the U21s European Championship last summer. These two teams would be the ones you would expect to get through.
Denmark failed to make an impact against Iraq, and in fact were dominated by the middle eastern team. Udinese’s Ali Adnan could have single-handedly won the match for Iraq, having two free kicks saved in the final minute. Denmark looked like the underdogs throughout. Iraq had seventeen shots, ten of them on target, more than Denmark in total, and really could have won the game if it hadn’t been for Danish goalkeeper Hojbjerg. Denmark were extremely disappointing in this game, and will have a lot to work on before they take on Brazil and South Africa.
Elsewhere, Brazil took on South Africa and were held to another 0-0 draw. Brazil had many good chances but needed to improve their finishing, only putting seven of their 20 shots on target. Both Gabriel Barbosa and Gabriel Jesus missed key chances, and Neymar was not getting the service he expected, meaning he had to drop deep into midfield to collect the ball and attempt to make things happen. South Africa have to be applauded for their defensive organization as well, Itumeleng Khune commanded his box, both leading his defense and launching counter-attacks. This was a great point for South Africa, and it certainly will be interesting to see how they approach Denmark and Iraq, where they’ll have more of a chance to play their natural game.