When a story has an ending that, as well as unhappy, is all too familiar, it can sometimes be difficult to find the will to seek out any positives.
The Brazilian players at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament must be feeling the same way, with time surely required before they can fully appreciate their run to the final and the fact Mano Menezes’ Seleção have come closer to finding a collective identity during London 2012.
Adding to the pain of their 2-1 defeat by Mexico on Saturday at Wembley was the fact it was Brazil’s third loss in the final of the men’s competition at the Games, having also suffered reverses in the deciders at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988.
Throwing further salt in the wounds is the knowledge that the seeds for this latest disappointment were sown by carelessness in the early seconds, with Rafael’s slack pass starting the chain of events that led to the quick-fire opener from Oribe Peralta which changed the face of the game.
“Everyone who plays football knows that finals are decided by small details, and that’s what happened today,” said Neymar, one of the most visibly dejected members of the Canarinho squad during the medal presentation. “Losing like that is very tough to take, but at least we can draw on the experience of playing at an Olympics and learn from this final, even in defeat.”
Following Peralta’s strike after just 29 seconds, it was clear that A Seleção went into a state of shock. Indeed, the early blow sucked the creativity out of a team that had scored three goals in each of the five games running up to the final.
Goals were gifts
“When you concede an early goal like that it’s hard to take,” said No10 Oscar. “Of course it affected us all. We went on to miss several chances to equalise but we couldn’t manage it. Then, in the second half, we began with all guns blazing but, in the midst of all our pressure, they went and scored again. We virtually gifted Mexico both their goals, but they’re a good team, they took their chances well and deserved to win.”
Despite the difficulty of focusing on the future so soon after losing a major final, the Brazilians were still able to appreciate that five wins and only one defeat at London 2012 could still be seen as an encouraging sign for the five-time FIFA World Cup™ winners ahead of Brazil 2014.
“Of course the overall verdict on this campaign is positive,” said left-back Marcelo. “It’s hard to think that way right now, but it’s true. We’ve come here and won a medal with a young squad, one which has a lot of room to grow,” added the Real Madrid star, before doing his best to prevent fellow full-back Rafael becoming a scapegoat for the reverse.
“Of course it was careless by us, but when we make a mistake, it's on all of our shoulders. Just like when someone scores a winning goal, we all share the credit.”
And, on a similar wavelength was Neymar, who had the final word: “There’s no point dwelling on what went wrong. It’s already in the past. Life goes on.”