So, has your interest in Olympics football been perked up yet? It has to be said that Team GB did their bit to rekindle interest with an entertaining if unconvincing win over UAE on Sunday but with blanket coverage of all the various events competing for airtime, it seems that football, the national sport, is seen by most observers as just another competition at London 2012.
That may change should Team GB manage to get themselves into a medal-winning position – any event in which a British competitor gets themselves into a medal-winning position is automatically the country’s new sport – but at the moment, even with Team GB’s games selling well, football hasn’t quite grabbed the imagination.
There are several reasons for this, the idea that the Olympics do not represent the pinnacle of the sport chief among them, but the quality of the football across the 16 teams has been decent and as we head into the final round-robin matches, all four groups are wide open.
Team GB don’t keep the ball well enough and despite the excellence of Craig Bellamy, they have looked short of ideas in the final third, set-pieces apart.
For Team GB, the scenario is simple. Avoid defeat against Uruguay in their last Group A fixture and they progress to the quarter-finals. A loss against the Uruguayans and a result for Senegal against the pointless UAE and Team GB will be watching the remainder of the tournament from their homes.
And the bookies think it is going to be close. Team GB are 3/2 to grab the win that could secure first place in the group, while you can get 17/10 on Uruguay and 11/5 on the draw.
At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, I think Uruguay are a knocking bet at 17/10 to end Team GB’s hopes, with new bwin punters set to win £54 if they successfully back Luis Suarez and company with their free £20 bet upon registering.
For starters, I don’t think Team GB have convinced at all. Extremely poor in their pre-tournament game against Brazil, Stuart Pearce’s men weren’t much better in drawing their opening match against Senegal 1-1.
The Brits performed marginally better in the 3-1 win over UAE on Sunday, but it was much closer than has been suggested in the media. It is one of those clichés that gets trotted out by pundits week after week, but goals change games and at the moment when Scott Sinclair tapped home from five yards to give Great Britain the lead, UAE were in complete control, creating chances and looking certain to score.
A quickfire second by Daniel Sturridge killed the match, but I haven’t been impressed with the way Pearce has set up his side and I think Uruguay can punish a naive British outfit.
In Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Gaston Ramirez, Uruguay possess players who can hurt a Team GB defence that has performed very shakily indeed. Inexperienced goalkeeper Jack Butland hasn’t been helped by some indifferent performances in front of him and they look far from secure.
Losing to ten-man Senegal was obviously not the best result for Uruguay, but they created lots of chances that on another day would have gone in. Team GB don’t keep the ball well enough and despite the excellence of Craig Bellamy, they have looked short of ideas in the final third, set-pieces apart.
And with Pearce, who I am no fan of as a manager, sure to encourage his troops to sit back in the knowledge a draw is enough, I think Uruguay can grab the initiative and at 17/10, they look a fine bet to me.
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