A performance of swagger and sparkle against New Zealand saw Brazil comfortably through to the quarter-finals and the South Americans now round off their group fixtures against China PR. Belgium, meanwhile, will be looking to seal a last-eight berth when they meet the Kiwis.
New Zealand-Belgium, Wednesday 13 August, Shanghai, 19:45 (local time)
China PR-Brazil, Wednesday 13 August, Qinhuangdao, 19:45 (local time)
Belgium made up for their narrow opening-day defeat to Brazil with a 2-0 victory over China PR in their second match, leaving the Red Devils in a commanding position ahead of their final fixture. A draw against New Zealand could well be enough to see the Europeans through to the last eight. For their part, the Kiwis were on a roll after a good display and a point against the Chinese, but the gulf in class against mighty Brazil hauled Stu Jacobs’ side firmly back down to earth. All the same, the men from Oceania will give it their best shot, as a win would see them leapfrog the Belgians in the standings.
The hosts were a picture of misery following their devastating 2-0 defeat by Belgium. Two players saw red cards and another pair picked up second yellows, leaving all four suspended for the Brazil clash. Indeed, the Chinese go into the prestige meeting with the five-time world champions on home soil with a matchday squad numbering just 14. In stark contrast, the mood in the Brazil camp could hardly be better. Coach Dunga’s team brushed aside New Zealand by five clear goals, suggesting they have hit their stride nicely in time for the rest of the tournament. A quarter-final berth is already in the bag, so Dunga is likely to hand many of his squad players a run-out, especially as one or two regulars are already on yellow cards.
The player to watch: Marcelo (BRA)
Superstar Ronaldinho is the man in the headlines, but his left-sided partner is delivering the goods with supreme consistency. Marcelo’s thunderous bursts down the flanks are highly reminiscent of a predecessor in the position, Roberto Carlos. Marcelo gets through a prodigious amount of work, posing a constant menace down the left with his powerful running. His muscular style is not the only similarity with the former FIFA World Cup™ winner, as the pair share a distinct preference for shaven heads.
The numbers game
80 - New Zealand are the 80th nation to contest the Olympic Football Tournament. They and Côte d’Ivoire are the two newcomers at the 2008 edition.
"It’s become almost impossible for us to make the quarter-finals. We’re playing Brazil, but we won’t give up in a hurry. It’s a good opportunity for the coach and the players to prove their worth against one of the great teams." China coach Yin Tiesheng
“Obviously we’re disappointed about losing to Brazil. But we’ll give it our best shot against Belgium and try and claim the three points." New Zealand striker Jeremy Brockie
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