If you consider that Brazil have won the FIFA World Cup™ a record five times and the likes of Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have all represented A Seleção at the Olympic Football Tournament, it is hard to fathom just how the competition’s gold medal has continued to elude them. The closest the Brazilians have come to date are silver medals at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, followed by bronzes collected at Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008 – near-misses that have made ending this Olympic drought a matter of national pride.
Once more Brazil prepare for an edition of the Olympic Football Tournament thoroughly enthused by the vast potential of their crop of U-23 starlets. Enjoying top billing is Santos golden boy Neymar, who has also firmly established himself as a key figure in attack for the Auriverde senior squad. With the jewel in O Peixe’s crown expected to lead the line at London 2012, where he should be joined by his Santista colleague Paulo Henrique Ganso, Sao Paulo flyer Lucas and Internacional hitman Leandro Damiao – all of whom are also full internationals – Brazil have high hopes of finally clinching that elusive gold medal.
The national obsession with filling this particular gap in Brazil’s bulging trophy cabinet has meant ‘Projeto Londres’ has become an integral part of head coach Mano Menezes’ remit at the helm of A Seleção. What's more, success with this particular group of rising young talents would be handed particular significance, and hopefully generate valuable momentum, given the immense pressure already on Brazil to claim a sixth global crown when hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Facts and figures
Dunga (1984), Taffarel, Jorginho, Ricardo Gomes, Mazinho, Romario (1988), Dida, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Ronaldo (1996), Ronaldinho (2000 and 2008)
Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Lucas, Leandro Damiao
Brazil ensured their involvement on British soil thanks to victory at the 2011 South American U-20 Championship, held between January and February that year in Peru. At the continental event, which A Verde e Amarelo won for the 11th time, Neymar underlined his status as one of the hottest young talents in the world game by firing nine goals in nine games – of which Brazil won eight and lost one – to finish as the competition’s top scorer.
The numbers game
2 – Brazil and Germany are to date the only two nations to have lifted the FIFA World Cup Trophy, without having also claimed gold in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. The Brazilians’ determination to end that record became ever more acute after arch-rivals Argentina triumphed at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, with the latter victory including a 3-0 semi-final defeat of A Seleção.