Having won all three of their matches during the group phase of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament London 2012, Brazil have confirmed their status as one of the favourites to win gold. Barring A Seleçao’s path to the semi-finals are surprise packages Honduras, who made waves by pulling off a shock victory over Spain in Group D.
Brazil-Honduras, St James' Park, Newcastle, Saturday 4 August, 17.00 (local time)
Brazil improved as the group phase progressed, scoring three goals a game and gradually shoring up their defence with each passing match, until their final Group C match against New Zealand saw them secure a morale-boosting clean sheet. Mano Menezes’ charges will need to be at their best to unlock a tight rearguard that has not conceded a goal since Honduras’ opening 2-2 draw with Morocco. They will have to be equally wary of Los Catrachos’ formidable counter-attacks.
Favourites for the tournament and brimming with star quality, Neymar and Co have no margin for error as they aim to move one step closer to lifting a trophy that has always managed to escape the South American nation's grasp. Opponents Honduras, whose squad is mostly made up of domestic-based players, have been preparing for the Olympics for quite some time. They will thus rely on their hard-earned defensive solidity to see them through a quarter-final clash in which they have nothing to lose.
11 – The number of yellow cards received by Honduras players since the beginning of the competition. With only Spain having amassed the same total, the figure is a good indication of the combative way in which Luis Suarez’s men have defended so far. The Hondurans have not yet forced a referee to brandish a red card, however, unlike the Brazilians, who saw Alex Sandro sent off during their final group match. This dismissal somewhat marred the disciplinary record of a team that has picked up very few bookings thus far.
“The ball bobbled. I tried to side-foot it into the net, but it came at me too fast. It’s the worst miss of my career,” Brazil forward Neymar, describing his remarkable miss versus New Zealand.
“Brazil have a very strong team, but that’s not a problem for us. We’ve got no intention of letting them have it all their own way, and we’re going to try to enjoy the occasion. On paper, they should beat us over 90 minutes, but we’re certainly not going to go into the match with a defeatist attitude,” Honduras coach Luis Suarez.