Managing to extend on their Olympic Games adventure with a nail-biting penalties victory on Tuesday morning, Brazil know that they’re now just a single win from making it back-to-back gold medals.
While many neutrals might have expected a thriller affair between this summer’s top scorers and the defending champions, we instead witnessed what was an incredibly uninspiring showdown at an empty Kashima Soccer Stadium.
Just about managing to drag themselves over the finish line against what was a sluggish Mexico side, we have taken a look at what the major talking points were as the Seleção move one step closer to making Olympic history.
Brazil sneak their way to the final
Opening up this summer’s delayed tournament with a thumping 4-2 win against 2016 silver medalists Germany last week, it was no secret that many expect Brazil to claim back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
Despite looking to replicate a similar level that saw Neymar snatch a famous victory in Rio five years ago, the Yellows largely failed to impress in the Kashima heat on Tuesday morning.
With it confirmed prior to kick-off that record-breaking striker Matheus Cunha would miss out due to a thigh strain, the Seleção failed to find much form in the final third, despite glimpses from Ajax winger Antony and a frustrated Richarlison.
Knowing that the attacking threat laid firmly on his shoulders, the Everton ace failed to get much change out of Mexico’s defence before going agonizing close to wrapping up the contest moments before extra-time got underway.
With just eight minutes left to play in normal time, Richralison could only see his flicked header glance of the inside of Guillermo Ochoa’s post before Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli failed to bundle the rebound over the line.
Eventually snatching the victory on Tuesday morning as Real Madrid’s Reinier smashed home the crucial penalty for 12 yards out, André Jardine’s side now have three days to recover.
Mexico crash out
Managing to book Tuesday’s semi-final at the Kashima Soccer Stadium thanks to a stunning display last weekend, some at this summer’s Olympic games believed that Mexico could spring an upset against the defending champions.
However, while El Tricolor might have last been seen picking up that remarkable 6-3 win against Saudi Arabia, Head Coach Jaime Lozano saw his side fail to cause any real problems in what was a timid display at best.
Spending more time involved in theatrics and their constant attempts to get the Brazilian’s shown some form of card, the London 2012 Olympic champions couldn’t find a similar level that saw them open Tuesday’s contest as the tournament top scorers.
Despite a late flurry in the first-half that saw both Luis Romo and Uriel Antuna miss a pair of chances, a sluggish Mexico failed to gain any real dominance in a matchup that didn’t produce a single shot on target throughout the whole of extra-time.
While Club America’s Henry Martin might have opened Mexico’s semi-final showdown in Kashima with three goals in his last two Olympic appearances, the 28-year-old constantly cut an isolated figure.
What’s next for both?
Just about managing to scrape their way past Tuesday’s dull affair in Kashima, Brazil will be desperate for a far more fluid display as the Seleção look to make it back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
Making the trip to Yokohama on Saturday, the South American giants have the chance to make even more history as they face off against a Spain side that had to come through their own hard-fought battle later in the day.
With a squad that includes the likes of Marco Asensio, Pedri and Pau Torres, Spain managed to land themselves a 1-0 win against host nation Japan thanks to a scrappy extra-time display.
With Brazil and Spain facing off on Saturday, Mexico also have their sights set on at least trying to leave with a bronze medal to show for their troubles. El Tricolor will face off against Japan on Friday in what could prove to be another cagey affair in Tokyo.
Mexico U23: Ochoa (6.5), Angulo (6), Montes (7), Roma (7), Vasquez (5), Lorona (6), Antuna (6.5), Cordova (6.5), Esquivel (6), Martin (5), Vega (6.5)
Subs: Lainez (6), Rodriguez (6), Angulo (5.5), Alvarado (6), Mora (5)
Brazil U23: Santos (7), Dani Alves (6.5), Nino (7), Diego Carlos (7), Arana (6), Bruno Guimaraes (7), Douglas Luiz (5), Antony, Claudinho (6.5), Paulinho (7), Richarlison (5.5)
Subs: Martinelli (7), Reinier (7), Malcom (5.5), Matheus Henrique (N/A)
Yellow Cards: Mexico U23: Montes, Lainez, Lorona, Romo – Brazil U23: Luiz, Reinier, Bruno Guimaraes, Antony, Carlos
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Georgi Kabakov
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!