Brazil win Gold in Men’s Soccer Final at Tokyo 2020

Posted on by Matthew T

Brazil have retained their title in the Men’s Soccer at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after a 2-1 win over Spain after extra time on Saturday. The win ensures back-to-back Gold medals after their win in Rio five years ago.

After six matches in 17 days, and at the end of fixture-congested seasons followed by respective Copa America and European Championships for most of the players, they would have been forgiven for a quiet and lacklustre final. But what followed was fantastic entertainment and desire from both teams to win a title and medal that many afford little attention for.

First Half

In a first half largely dominated by Brazil in terms of chances created, it was Spain who almost took an early lead. Marco Asensio’s in-swinging cross from the right found Mikel Oyarzabal at the far post, and his header across goal was defended superbly in the end by Brazil centre-back Diego Carlos. The Sevilla man somehow managed to prevent an easy tap-in for Spain’s Dani Olmo whilst also clearing it off the goal-line to spare his blushes from a potential own-goal.

Whilst Spain appeared comfortable in possession for large parts of the match, it was Brazil who threatened most. And 34 minutes in they earned themselves a penalty thanks to input from VAR. A deep free-kick into the box was attacked by forward Matheus Cunha and despite being clattered by goalkeeper Unai Simon, the referee initially awarded a free-kick in favour of Spain. However, VAR intervened and correctly awarded a clear penalty to Brazil. Unfortunately for the defending champions, the tournament’s top goalscorer Richarlison did not have his best match and blazed his penalty some distance over the crossbar.

Thankfully for Richarlison, Brazil did manage to take the lead on the stroke of half-time. In the final minute of injury-time, Matheus Cunha struck with his third goal of the tournament. Claudinho’s cross in from the left was just about kept alive by Dani Alves at the far post and after some hesitant defending from Spain, the Hertha Berlin man chested the ball down and fired home for the opener.

Second Half

Moving into the second half and Brazil should have found themselves ahead just a few minutes in. Richarlison found himself in on goal and somehow only managed to hit the underside of the crossbar after a touch from goalkeeper Unai Simon. The chance summed up the Everton forward’s match.

Spain punished him further nine minutes later with an equalising goal. Half-time substitute Carlos Soler chipped an inviting cross to the far post and Mikel Oyarzabal thumped the ball home on the volley to bring Spain level. It was the forward’s second goal of the Olympics.

The final 10 minutes saw Spain enjoy possibly their best spell of the match. Firstly, Carlos Soler’s poor cross almost resulted in a complete fluke of a goal as the ball looped over the goalkeeper and rebounded off the top of the crossbar. Just a few minutes later, it was new Tottenham signing Bryan Gil’s turn to strike the crossbar. His thunderous 25-yard-strike was unfortunate to smash the frame of the Brazilian goal. It would certainly have been a goal worthy of winning a Gold medal.

Extra Time

Both teams freshened up their tiring teams with a number of substitutions during extra time. But despite Spain controlling possession for large parts, it was Brazil who regained their composure and finished stronger. The Spanish side struggled to create anything worth noting during this period. Although, their opponents created only one notable chance, but this was the winner. Antony led the charge on a counter-attack from inside his own half and chipped a delightful through ball in behind the Spanish defence. Substitute Malcom showed blistering pace to nick in behind Jesus Vallejo and the Zenit St Petersburg forward squeezed the ball home with a left-footed finish. It would prove to be enough as Brazil saw out the rest of the match fairly comfortably.

Opinion

The pre-tournament favourites Brazil lived up to expectations and displayed their quality, especially in the final third, throughout the match as well as the tournament as a whole. They were happy to allow Spain control of the ball but came alive in the final third and created the better chances throughout the final. On another day, tournament top goalscorer Richarlison would have had added a couple of goals to his tally and Brazil would have won without the need for extra time. Spain also performed impressively throughout the tournament and can take courage from their Silver medal. But Brazil deservedly defended their Men’s Soccer Olympics title and added another Gold medal to their collection.

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