Gold or bust for Brazil

Brazil’s vast and extensive honours collection includes Olympic silver and bronze medals, but the South Americans’ trophy cabinet still lacks Olympic gold. Coach Dunga has picked a truly star-studded ensemble to undertake the quest for glory in Beijing this year, where Brazil cross swords with Belgium, New Zealand and hosts China at the group stage.

The games
Brazil - Belgium, 7 August, 17.00 (local time), Shenyang
China PR - New Zealand, 7 August, 19.45 (local time), Shenyang

The context

Nothing less than victory in the final will suffice for the five-time FIFA World Cup™ winners in Beijing this year. The team, spearheaded by Ronaldinho, Pato and Co will be utterly determined to brush aside the challenge posed by Belgium in the opening match, setting the tone for what they hope will be a commanding march through the tournament. Brazil and Belgium have met three times at previous FIFA tournaments, the South Americans winning all three matches and the Europeans failing to score even once.

Hopes of glorious success and the dawn of a new and more positive footballing future rest on the host nation’s Olympic football team. With the senior national team already eliminated from qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the U-23 youngsters are determined to make the most of home advantage and see off Olympic newcomers New Zealand in their first match.

The player to watch: Ronaldinho (BRA)

The spotlight in Shenyang will be firmly trained on Brazil superstar Ronaldinho. Following a difficult season with very few appearances at Barcelona, the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year hopes a switch to AC Milan and the Olympic Football Tournament will propel him back to the zenith of the world game.

The numbers game
China have yet to score in the Olympic Football Tournament. At the 1988 games in Seoul, they lost 3-0 to Germany, 2-0 to Sweden, and drew 0-0 with Tunisia.

The quotes

"Opening against Brazil is the best thing that could happen. I really think it’s a good thing. We’ll be up for it, and we’re definitely in with a chance, although obviously we have to be realistic. After Brazil we face New Zealand and China, who are more or less in the same league as ourselves." Belgium goalkeeper Logan Bailly

"The opening match against New Zealand will be crucial and decisive for us, because our opponents after that will be stronger. The result against New Zealand will set the tone for the rest of the tournament." China coach Yin Tiesheng

The question
Will Ronaldinho be Brazil's player of the tournament?