So after all the controversy, the debate and the unsold tickets, it is down to business. With only a week to go before the Olympic Games kick off in London, the Team GB football team play a historic friendly at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium as they begin their preparations to add some medal glory to what could be an inspiring two weeks for the country.
If we ignore the argument about whether football should be an Olympic sport (it shouldn’t), whether Stuart Pearce should be Team GB coach (he shouldn’t) or whether David Beckham should be in the squad (he shouldn’t), then at least the football tournament, despite being considered an irrelevance to some and an inconvenience to others (especially club managers who have lost players to it), has some fine players on display and in my estimation could surpass admittedly modest expectations.
Team GB have had an arduous inception but Pearce has picked a squad of 18 in accordance to the rules: 15 under-23 players and three over-age wildcards. In among the 13 Englishmen and five Welshmen (quite why Huddersfield Town’s Scotland Under-21 goal machine Jordan Rhodes failed to make the cut beats me) are Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards, with Pearce bemoaning the fact he couldn’t take all the best players at his disposal.
If I were him, I would just be pleased the FA aren’t hell bent on appointing the best coaches at their disposal, otherwise he’d be buying one of the thousands of unsold tickets if he wanted to be anywhere near the action.
Team GB have a decent squad, but aren’t in the same class as others, even allowing for a relatively poor preparation in comparison to some of their rivals (and I’m not talking about having Pearce as manager).
Pearce is bemoaning the fact he couldn’t take all the best players at his disposal. If I were him, I would just be pleased the FA aren’t hell bent on appointing the best coaches at their disposal, otherwise he’d be buying one of the thousands of unsold tickets.
Their first friendly is tonight against Brazil and with captain Giggs already making noises that the team is undercooked going into next week’s kick-off, it is worth opposing the hosts at the Riverside.
You can get 4/1 on a Team GB win with bwin, while the draw is at 5/2 and the Brazilians are at 7/10 – and it is easy to see why Brazil are such firm favourites.
Brazil’s squad at the Olympics is the core of the one that will carry the nation’s hopes when they host the World Cup in 2014 and as such, coach Mano Menezes is under pressure to deliver Olympic gold, something Brazil have never won.
The squad at his disposal is outrageously talented and what they believe back home is a golden generation. Oscar, the prodigiously talented Internacional star who appears Chelsea-bound, leads the way but the likes of Neymar, Hulk, Lucas and Leandro Damiao are all expected to start, with players like Alexandre Pato and Lucas Moura mere substitutes.
So in short, Brazil are here to win it and have the class to do so. More class than team GB, anyhow, and that 7/10 just has to be taken.
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