Brazil is getting closer to its first ever Gold medal at the Olympic Games. But why hasn’t the mightiest football nation in the world ever won this tournament? Here’s an overview of Brazil’s Olympic history.
The Brazilians, who were hardly important as football country before the war, missed out on the first seven Olympic football tournaments to make their first appearance in 1952.
After wins over the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Brazil eventually crashed to West Germany (4-2) in the quarter finals.
In Italy, 1960, the tournament began using a group phase for the first time. Brazil beat Great Britain and Taiwan but then lost to the Italians, who won the group and advanced to the semi finals.
Four years later, Brazil were even less successful. A draw with the UAE and a win over South Korea, preceded a defeat to Czechoslovakia and the South Americans finished third in the group.
And in 1968, another third place awaited Brazil after a defeat by Spain followed by draws with Japan and Nigeria.
The 1972 were one of the worst for Brazil as only Hungary could be held to a draw. Denmark and Iran were too strong and this time, the then thrice world champions finished fourth.
In Montreal four years later, Brazil finally managed to survived the group phase. In a group of just three teams, East Germany were held to a draw and Spain were beaten to finish top of the table.
In the quarter finals, Israel were beaten 4-1 but Poland were too strong in the semi’s, 2-0. The Brazilians went on to lose the Bronze medal match to the Soviet Union.
After that disappointment, it would take eight years for Brazil to return to the Olympic stage. It would be one of their best tournaments ever. The group phase saw three Brazilian wins, over Saudi Arabia, West Germany and Morocco.
Canada were beaten on penalties in the quarter finals and Italy were pushed aside in the semi’s. But in the final, a team with current manager Dunga were beaten 2-0 by France in front of 101,000 spectators in Los Angeles.
Another four years later, Brazil again won all of its group matches versus Nigeria, Australia and Yugoslavia respectively. Arch rivals and Tuesday’s opponents Argentina were defeated in the quarter finals and West Germany were defeated on penalties to reach the final for the second time in a row.
This time, the Brazilians looked for revenge but they would never get it. Romario did put his side in the lead after thirty minutes but a second half goal from Dobrovolski took the match to extra time, where Savichev would net the winning goal in the 103rd minute.
Missing out on the 1992 Olympics, Brazil did return in 1996. After a defeat by Japan, the South Americans recovered with wins over Hungary and Nigeria to win the group.
Ghana were beaten in the quarters but Nigeria, who had been beaten in the group phase, had improved their form in the mean time and beat Brazil in the semi finals. In fact, the Africans would go on to win the tournament while Brazil went home with their first Bronze medal thanks to a 5-0 win over Portugal.
The 2000 Olympics in Sydney once again had Brazil win its group with withs over Slovakia and Japan and a defeat by South Africa. This time the adventure ended in the quarter final as the eventual champions Cameroon won 2-1 with a goal from Modeste Mbami in the 113th minute. Ronaldinho formed part of this Brazilian squad, and will want to finish this year’s edition on the podium.
Four years ago, in Athens, Brazil failed to qualify. This made their hunger for success in Beijing only bigger.
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