Brazil and Germany to meet in Rio repeat at Tokyo Olympics

By Sports Desk April 21, 2021

Reigning champions Brazil and 2016 finalists Germany have been drawn together in the group stages for the men's football tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Brazil secured the gold medal on home soil in Rio five years ago when defeating Germany via a penalty shoot-out, Neymar with the clinching spot-kick for following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

The two nations are together again in Group D, along with Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia, and are in the same half of the draw as Argentina and Spain, who are both in Group C.

Hosts Japan are joined in Group A by France, Mexico – who claimed the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – and South Africa.

Les Bleus will be involved in the opening match when they take on Mexico on July 22 at Tokyo Stadium, followed by Japan taking on South Africa at the same venue later that day.

In the women's event, the United States – winners of the 2019 World Cup - are paired with Sweden, who lost the 2016 final to Germany. Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand complete the line-up for Group G.

Japan will take on Canada, Great Britain and Chile in Group E, while the other pool contains China, Brazil, the Netherlands and Zambia.


Men's draw in full:

Group A: Japan, South Africa, Mexico, France.

Group B: New Zealand, South Korea, Honduras, Romania.

Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia.

Group D: Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia

Women's draw in full:

Group E: Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile.

Group F: China, Brazil, Zambia, the Netherlands.

Group G: Sweden, United States, Australia, New Zealand.

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  • Brazil boss Tite hails Neymar but stops short of Ronaldo and Romario comparisons Brazil boss Tite hails Neymar but stops short of Ronaldo and Romario comparisons

    Brazil head coach Tite lauded Neymar after the superstar inspired the Copa America champions to a 3-0 win against Venezuela in Sunday's curtain-raiser.

    Neymar scored and was involved in the two other goals as Brazil kicked off their title defence in victorious fashion behind closed doors in Brasilia.

    Marquinhos opened the scoring following Neymar's corner in the 23rd minute before the latter converted a penalty after the hour mark.

    It was Neymar's 67th international goal – just 10 shy of Pele's all-time record. Since making his Brazil debut in August 2010, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has scored 48 more goals than any of his Selecao team-mates.

    Neymar then provided the cross for substitute Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa to complete the scoring in the final minute of regulation as Tite refused to make comparisons with Brazil greats Ronaldo and Romario.

    "When Neymar is well physically and well in his head, good things happen," Tite told reporters after the 29-year-old created seven chances against Venezuela – the most by any Brazil player in the Copa America since his international bow.

    "When you have a player with the technical quality that he has, you gain in assist ability, with the left foot or with the right foot, and he becomes an unpredictable player.

    "When you stop him in a more advanced position on the field of play it is better for him, because the opponents are afraid of making him an infraction in a dangerous place on the field, so we structure the team so that he receives fewer balls, but to do it in a more efficient way for the creation of the game.

    "It would be an injustice to compare players from different eras, because the players of my generation were extraordinary, Neymar is also extraordinary, and a while ago Ronaldo and Romario were also extraordinary.

    "There are different stages and moments, so you have to be very careful not to compare them."

  • Neymar and Brazil kick-start Copa America to empty seats and silent fanfare Neymar and Brazil kick-start Copa America to empty seats and silent fanfare

    Before Brazil's Copa America opener against Venezuela, there was a moment of silence to recognise the victims of the pandemic and those leading the fight against COVID-19.

    It was a poignant scene. Somehow, it was made more powerful by the fact it was staged in front of thousands of empty seats at Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, the fans kept away from matches at a tournament held in part as a distraction from the global health crisis.

    Yet the Selecao's simple victory, secured through goals by Marquinhos, Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa, only compounded the uncomfortable feeling that, perhaps, this tournament shouldn't be taking place at all.

    CONMEBOL's decision to remove the event from co-hosts Colombia and Argentina over concerns around civil unrest and coronavirus cases, and relocate it to a country struggling with both, was questionable to say the least. The Brazil squad certainly thought so, reluctantly taking part only after making it clear they were deeply unhappy with South American football's governing body. Head coach Tite decried it as a "politicised" decision.

    In the weeks leading up to the tournament, protests erupted across the country against the handling of the pandemic by president Jair Bolsonaro, who has been criticised for playing down the severity of a virus that has killed more than 460,000 of his citizens. Then, just when Brazil had agreed to play, Sunday's opponents were struck by a surge of positive test results, wrecking their preparations for a match where few gave them a chance anyway.

    So it was that the Brazil and Venezuela players stood arm in arm in the centre circle on Sunday, in silent tribute before those empty red seats, faceless reminders of the awful toll COVID-19 has taken. It felt like this was why these teams had gathered here, that the football match to follow was an afterthought.

    There were still things to admire about the subsequent 90 minutes. A depleted Venezuela performed admirably to keep Brazil at arm's length for 23 minutes and rode their luck when Richarlison's touch let him down and Gabriel Jesus steered a header wide. It took a set-piece for Tite's mean to break through, Marquinhos bundling the ball in from Neymar's delivery.

    Joel Graterol in the Vinotinto goal had kept the scoreline down but was beaten again just past the hour mark, Neymar side-stepping and stuttering his way to the penalty spot before slotting home international goal number 67 after a foul on Danilo. Brazil's number 10 would have had two more sublime solo goals had his shooting been a little more accurate; instead, he put a pinpoint cross into Gabriel's chest for 3-0 after another drive into the box.

    The players celebrated their goals with gusto but, after the full-time whistle echoed around the arena, there were few cheers or beaming smiles. This was job done, formalities over, onto the next one. They retreated back down the tunnel. The eerie silence lingered.

  • Brazil 3-0 Venezuela: Neymar on target as Selecao open Copa America defence with a win Brazil 3-0 Venezuela: Neymar on target as Selecao open Copa America defence with a win

    Neymar was on target as Brazil opened their Copa America defence with a 3-0 win over Venezuela at Estadio Nacional on Sunday. 

    Hosting the tournament after it had been moved from Colombia and Argentina amid political unrest in the former and a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the latter, Brazil were never troubled by a Venezuela side that had reported 12 positive coronavirus tests amongst their ranks earlier this week. 

    Marquinhos got them on their way midway through the first half with his third international goal before Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar doubled their advantage from the penalty spot in the 64th minute.

    Brazil – who finished with 18 shots to Venezuela's three – added a third late on when substitute Gabriel Barbosa turned home a Neymar cross from close range.

    Brazil started on the front foot and twice went close early on, Joel Graterol keeping out Richarlison and Eder Militao heading wide from a teasing Renan Lodi cross.

    They were rewarded for their bright start in the 23rd minute when Marquinhos flicked home from close range after Neymar's corner had fallen kindly to him. 

    Richarlison saw an effort ruled out for offside soon after, while Neymar dragged wide from a promising position as Brazil failed to extend their advantage before the interval.

    Neymar was unable to steer home a Gabriel Jesus cross at the start of the second period, but he stroked home from the spot shortly after the hour mark after Danilo had been clipped in the area by Yohan Cumana. 

    Late on Neymar turned provider for Brazil’s third in the 89th minute, rounding Graterol and crossing for Barbosa to chest home from almost on the line. 

    What does it mean? Familiar home comforts for Tite's men

    Brazil will face significantly tougher tests than the one posed by a depleted Venezuela side, but Tite will be pleased to see his side get off the mark with the minimum of fuss. 

    The Selecao have now gone 21 Copa America games without losing when the tournament takes place on home soil (W13 D8), while they have lifted the title on the previous five occasions they have hosted the tournament. Their rivals have been warned. 

    Neymar sparkles for Brazil

    The PSG forward was at his talismanic best, taking five shots and making a game-high seven key passes. He also competed in a whopping 17 duels – the most of any player on the pitch – and drew the most fouls (four) of any player.

    Jesus struggles to make an impact

    Jesus had just a solitary shot and failed to play a single key pass to a team-mate in what was an underwhelming display. Roberto Firmino might just fancy his chances of replacing him for Brazil's next game after this showing from the Manchester City man. 

    What's next?

    Both sides are in action again on Thursday, with Brazil facing Peru in Rio de Janeiro and Venezuela taking on Colombia in Goiania.

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