The Men’s Olympic Football Tournament will see new champions crowned at London 2012. Fittingly the scene of their coronation will be the magnificent Wembley Stadium, where Brazil and Mexico will fight it out in a bid to make history.
The Mexicans already have the satisfaction of improving on their previous best performance at the Games, fourth place in 1968, while A Seleção are within touching distance once more of the one major title that has always eluded them.
Brazil are bracing themselves for their third Olympic final, the previous two having ended in defeat in 1984 and 1988. Gold would give Mano Menezes and his young squad a major fillip as they continue their preparations for the ultimate challenge at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. The Brazilians have barely put a foot wrong at London 2012, winning every single one of their five matches and scoring three goals on each occasion.
El Tri’s progress to the final has been far less smooth. Taken to extra-time by Senegal in the quarter-finals, they then had to come from behind to beat Japan in the semis. Those hard-fought triumphs have boosted their morale, however, and their only worry ahead of the final is the muscle strain that has put Giovani dos Santos’ participation in doubt.
The most recent meeting between the two sides, one that featured six members of the current Brazil squad and four of the Mexico line-up, came in the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, which the South Americans won 2-0.
2 - Mexico and Brazil have faced each other twice in the finals of FIFA tournaments, with Los Aztecas emerging triumphant on both occasions, winning 4-3 to lift the FIFA Confederations Cup on home soil in 1999 and then 3-0 in claiming the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2005.
“We hope to win gold, and we’ve been working with that objective in mind for the last month now. We have to focus on our game though, because Mexico are a very tough side and we’ll need to show them a lot of respect,” Brazil defender Marcelo.
“We’re very happy at having made sure of a silver medal already, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to settle for what we’ve got. It goes without saying that we’ll be aiming for the gold medal against Brazil. These young Mexican players have a different mindset. We won the U-17 World Cup, came third in the U-20 World Cup, and here we are in the final. We won the [CONCACAF] Gold Cup in convincing style too, showing that we were far and away the best team in that tournament. You can see from the U-17’s up that the mentality has changed. These kids want to play abroad, they don’t have any hang-ups and they want to get better,” Mexico coach Luis Fernando Tena.