Pressure on as Brazil and Mexico look to maintain momentum

  • Brazil and Mexico look to maintain goalscoring momentum

  • Romania looking to reprise former glories

  • previews all the talking points

A pivotal middle matchday looms at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 on Sunday. All 16 teams line up and, though just two days following the official Olympic Ceremony, we could potentially see a couple of teams eliminated.

At the other end of the scale, the likes of Mexico and Brazil – the two most recent winners of the tournament – will look to maintain their momentum after each hitting the net four times on Thursday.

Meanwhile, two-time gold medallists Argentina have little margin for error after a surprise opening defeat against Australia. Perhaps the match of the day, however, sees hosts Japan tackle London 2012 winners Mexico. The matches Egypt-Argentina Sapporo Dome, 16.30 (local time) New Zealand-Honduras Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, 17.00 France-South Africa Saitama Stadium, 17.00 Brazil-Côte d'Ivoire International Stadium Yokohama, 17.30 Australia-Spain Sapporo Dome, 19:30 Romania-Korea Republic Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, 20.00 Japan-Mexico Saitama Stadium, 20:00 Saudi Arabia-Germany International Stadium Yokohama, 20.30

Key Points A nine-year reunion Japan welcomes Mexico to their traditional national team home base, Saitama Stadium on the outskirts of Tokyo. And the locals will be looking for a dose of revenge after losing the London 2012 semi-final against El Tri. Despite the U-24 nature of this competition, a couple of players are backing up from that match at Wembley, namely Japan’s inspirational skipper Maya Yoshida and fellow defender Hiroki Sakai. Lancashire lads Two goalscoring heroes based in the north-west of England will be looking to reprise their matchday 1 heroics. Everton’s Richarlison scored a stunning half-hour hat-trick to give Brazil a dream start in their quest to retain gold. Equally, Burnley poster-boy Chris Wood was the match-winner for a hitherto unheralded New Zealand, and a reprise of that feat could see the Kiwis land a quarter-final berth. Happy returns for Romania? The last time Romania featured at a Men’s Olympic Football Tournament was in 1964 which, coincidentally, was also in Japan. Romania reached the quarter-finals on that occasion and a win against Korea Republic, in concert with victory for New Zealand against Honduras, would see the winning pair into the last-eight.

Germany’s chance for redemption It was a curious opening at Tokyo 2020 for traditional European powerhouse Germany who face Saudi Arabia next up. Germany perhaps looked on course for a record defeat against Brazil in falling 3-0 behind after 30 minutes, but then displayed some impressive resolve to get back into the contest. A match-up against Saudi Arabia on Sunday conjures up memories of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ for many German fans, and the Europeans will certainly be hoping to conjure up the scoring form of Miroslav Klose and Co from that famed 8-0 victory in Sapporo. Making waves Down Under Australia “stunned the world” according to headlines Down Under as the Olyroos’ dynamic win over Argentina enjoyed plenty of attention. The Aussies’ mobile attackers were particularly eye-catching, among them one-time Puskas award nominee Riley McGree, FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™ representative Daniel Arzani and substitute Marco Tilio who, after a breakout A-League campaign, became the youngest goalscorer for the Olyroos at 19. The task, however, doesn’t get any easier with Spain up next in Sapporo.

The quote "We lacked everything, concentration, aggression and we are lucky not to end up conceding five or six goals. This is a big underperformance. But there are two games left. We have to go for this qualifying. We have no choice. We want to. We know the ingredients we need for the next game." Andre-Pierre Gignac, France captain