Given that some of us had fun discussing soccer in another recent thread, I'll be starting a new one, and will invite my buddies to join, if they are watching thes tournaents. So, this won't be the gorgeous football we just consumed in Copa America and the Euro 2020, but maybe it will be moderately entertaining. Today I watched 3 of the opening games of the Olympics, and yesterday, 3 of the Copa Libertadores matches. Olympics: Mexico 2 - 0 France The Mexicans came to Tokyo in full strength. Virtually all their players in this Olympic team have had caps for their Men's Senior National Team. France on the other hand had trouble getting the clubs to release players, and had to call up 11 lesser players to replace the ones they would have liked to have but weren't released by their clubs. The Mexicans were much better; dominated possession, were much more dangerous, and looked very comfortable, winning 2-0 which is a score that doesn't fully reflect their superiority. It could have been more. Australia 2-0 Argentina I don't know what's the situation regarding ideal versus non-ideal strength of these squads but again, the Socceroos were clearly superior, surprisingly. Yes, Argentina played with 10 men for the entire second half, but even in first half when they were complete, Australia dominated the action and got ahead 1-0. Second half, more of the same, Australia scored again and could have scored more (they missed some incredible opportunities). Disappointing Argentina, impressive Australia. Brazil 4-2 Germany This was an incredibly lopsided game. The Brazilians called up a good team, and did take advantage of the rule that allows an Olympic team to include up to 3 older players. Brazil called up Richarlison and Daniel Alves; the first to beef up the offense, the latter to be the captain and orchestrate the youngsters. Well, it worked. With 30 minutes of the first half, Richarlison had already scored a hat trick, Brazil 3-0. They were vastly superior to Germany; fast, overwhelming, with beautiful and dangerous attacks. First half could have ended 4-0 as Brazil squandered a penalty kick (one of the youngsters took it and did very poorly, enabling the German goalie to stop it; I'm sure if they had allowed Dani Alves to take it, Brazil could be sitting at 4-0 by the end of first half). Actually it could have been 6-0... Brazil squandered two other incredible opportunities with the German goalie already dribbled out and an open goal in front of the striker but they managed to miss. And the goalie did make some two or three other amazing saves. This is a game that could have ended 7-0 for Brazil in first half... Then, second half was totally different. Brazil came back looking bored and uninterested... likely thinking, it's the first game of the tournament, we got this, why should we kill ourselves here trying to run up the score? The sloppy and uninterested style encouraged Germany and they scored two goals, at which point Brazil woke up again and scored the fourth and final goal to put the game away. This German squad doesn't indicate anything about the state of youth soccer in Germany and the potential for their young crop, because much worse than France, Germany had to call up no fewer then 100 players to get 16 to be released by their clubs, to the point that they brought just a 16-player contingent because they couldn't get anybody else. Which showed in the first half... it looked like a senior team playing against an elementary school team... they are to be commended for still scoring two goals on Brazil, in second half. I find it a bit disgraceful that French and especially German clubs feel so detached of the idea of earning an Olympic gold medal for the country, and won't release their players. It feels unpatriotic. The only entertaining game of these three was Australia - Argentina where things were a bit more even (even though Australia were clearly superior). The other two games, Mexico was so much better than France and Brazil so much better than Germany that it wasn't really a lot of fun to watch. The group stage will likely get even less entertaining from now on, as the best teams will play against even weaker opposition, but the quarterfinals, semi, and final, maybe will be entertaining. ------------- I was already sorely missing soccer after the hugely engaging summer of soccer we had with Copa America and Euro 2020, so the Olympics and Copa Libertadores will at least minimize a bit the withdrawal, while I wait for the Italian Serie A to restart on August 21. ------------- Copa Libertadores, the equivalent of the Champions League for South America, is also going on (presently, round of 16, second leg) and I watched 3 games, all 3 featuring Brazilian clubs versus Argentine clubs. These were decent games and the Brazilians prevailed in all 3. The Atletico Mineiro - Boca Juniors game was good and ended up 0-0 aggregate, resulting in a penalty shootout, won by the Brazilians. Sao Paulo prevailed easily against their opponents Racing, 3-1, 4-2 aggregate. I also watched Flamengo destroy the weak Defensa y Justicia, a team I had never head of, 4-1, 5-1 aggregate. While I didn't watch the game, I'm happy that Brazilian club Palmeiras also prevailed over Universidad Catolica de Chile, 1-0, 2-0 aggregate. I root for Palmeiras because it's the club founded by the Italian community in the city of São Paulo, previously named Palestra Italia. One of the matchups for the quarterfinals will be Atletico Mineiro vs. River Plate, which should be fun, featuring two of the strongest teams respectively in Brazil and Argentina, big rivalry.