The delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games may not have officially started yet, with the opening ceremony scheduled for Friday but the action is already well underway in some team sports. The men’s Olympic football matches are in full swing with eight matches making up Thursday’s fixture list. The teams involved on the day include France, Spain, Argentina, Japan and Mexico.
Our team of football experts plan to preview the best of the tournament’s games and we get the ball rolling with a mouth-watering clash involving Egypt and Spain. There’s all to play for with both teams believing they have what it takes to go all the way to the medals. To give themselves the best chance of achieving that they must collect all three points in their opening fixture. Which nation will do that?
These teams have met only once before with that game played back in 2012 at the London games. Spain were the favourites that day to come out on top and they did just that. They lived up to expectations, swaggering to a comfortable 3-1 win, getting the job done in the first half. Nine years may have passed since that win for Spain but the Red Fury will be confident of doing something similar against the Pharaohs but they’ll have to be at their best to accomplish it.
Egypt not here to make up the numbers
Egypt have been dropped into a group alongside Spain, Argentina and Australia so know exactly the size of the task ahead of them. Most pundits have picked the Pharaohs out to finish bottom of the pile but football in this competition rarely goes to plan and the underdogs will be eager to cause an upset. If they can get something from their opening game against group favourites Spain then there’s no reason why they can’t push hard for one of the prize places. A strong start is required.
The top two in the pool advance to the knockout rounds of play after each team has played every other in the round-robin group format. That’s why getting at least a point on matchday one is so important. If Egypt lose their opener against the Spanish they will be playing catching up on the rest of the field from early on and that only increases the pressure. A draw and share of the spoils wouldn’t be the worst result for them in this game but getting a point against Spain is easier said than done.
This nation does have experience of reaching the latter rounds of the Olympics and they have finished in fourth place twice before. They first achieved that feat, narrowly missing out on a medal back in 1928 then again in 1964. Having never returned with a medal to show for their efforts, is this the year Egypt finishes on the podium?
Spain team full of stars
The Olympic football teams are usually made up of under 23 players with a maximum of three overage players permitted in the squad. As Tokyo 2020 was postponed for 12 months due to the pandemic, officials took that extra year into account and teams can field players who are aged 24 and below. That means the Spaniards can get close to a full strength side from the Euros if they wanted to, but it’s unlikely they will go with too many of their top names. It has already been a punishing year for players who have played catch up on their club leaves, Euro 2020 and now Tokyo 2020. The new club season is also just a few weeks away from beginning.
Spain opened their campaign as one of the pundits’ picks to win the group before going all the way to finish on the podium. Their squad is littered with world-class players, and it would come as no major surprise if they were to win the gold medal. There’s a lot of football to be played, however, so the team must take one game at a time. Spain are talented, ambitious and capable of going all the way, but they’re not good enough to be able to take their eye off the ball and believe they simply have to turn up.
They will want to get off to a winning start over a decent opponent. Doing so won’t only put three points on the board. It will set the standard for the games ahead. Spain will want to win the match and send a message to their rivals showing they are serious about winning this competition. They can do that by scoring goals and putting on a show.
Egypt v Spain prediction
Here we have a meeting of two teams who have a history of success at this level and two teams who will rate their chances of going through to the knockout rounds. Progressing won’t be easy, meaning three points on matchday one is crucial. Which team will grab the win and get off to the perfect start?
This Spanish side has some household names on paper, but the squad has already played so much football and could be weary. If that’s the case, then Egypt, who will be fresher, are good enough to catch them off-guard and cause an upset result. Spain must be at their best if they are to get the points.
Egypt must be organised in defence and take any chances that drop their way. They’ll spend long periods of time out of possession of the football against a talented opponent who loves to pass, and that’s when they must keep their shape and stay switched on. Spain will punish any lapses in concentration.
Olympic Games odds
The pre-match betting available at 22bet on this match has Egypt priced at odds of 14.5 to claim the win, or there’s 1.248 trading on Spain grabbing all three points. The draw can be backed at 5.4.
In addition to the match winner market, there are also dozens of pre-game and in-play betting options available. Have your say on both teams to score, total goals, correct score, handicap, half time/full time and more.
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