Football

Yellow and... Gold!

The task falls on Neymar to spark his team to winning that one title that has eluded Brazil

Ronaldo couldn't do it, so too Ronaldinho. Can Neymar etch his name into history by leading Brazil to the Olympic Games football gold medal - the one elusive title they have not won?

The signs are positive, in particular in attack where wonder kids Gabriel Barbosa and Gabriel Jesus, both tipped to make big-money moves to Europe from Santos and Palmeiras respectively after the Games, will support Neymar in attack.

The pressure is building on Neymar and new coach Rogerio Micale is not helping either.

Micale takes charge after leading Brazil to the Under-20 World Cup final last year. Like the fans, he also expects Neymar to deliver.

He said: "I want to be dependent on Neymar. What coach in the world would not want a Neymar in their team?

"Neymar has exceeded my expectations. He is appreciated, he's a good guy with a huge heart especially around the younger players.

"He has shown that he is more than just a great player - he's a great man admired by everybody."

GOLDEN BOY

Brazilian football is in desperate need of a pick-me-up after the humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany at their own World Cup two years ago and a group-stage exit at the Copa America Centenario in June.

Golden boy Neymar has been untarnished by the failures.

Two broken vertebrae in his back suffered near the end of a World Cup quarter-final win over Colombia left Brazil without their talisman against the Germans two years ago.

And as part of an agreement between Barcelona and the Brazilian federation, Neymar skipped the Copa America to ensure he is fresh for the Olympics.

Neymar was part of the Brazil side shocked by Mexico in the final of the 2012 Olympics.

But Brazil are strong favourites to end their wait as apart from home advantage, they also possess by far the strongest squad on paper, when the tournament gets underway tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Teams are restricted to just three players over the age of 23 in their 18-man squads.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos and Neymar's Barcelona teammate Rafinha are also in the squad to provide valuable experience.

Their biggest threat is likely to come from eternal rivals Argentina.

Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa and Giovanni Simeone, son of Atletico boss Diego, formed a lethal partnership in scoring 13 goals to win the 2015 South American U-20 Championships to qualify.

World champions Germany can call on the experience of the Bender twins Lars and Sven of Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund respectively, as two of their over-aged players.

A return to Brazil holds particularly fond memories for Dortmund fullback Matthias Ginter, who was part of the German squad that won the World Cup two years ago.

Ginter has shown his commitment to the cause by flying almost 20,000km in four days as he headed back from China with Dortmund on Friday before jetting off to Brazil.

"I'm still young and you have to take the chances offered to you. We're all motivated and want to reach the final in Rio," said the 22-year-old.

If they do, Brazil could be there waiting for them - with revenge firmly on their minds.

- Wire Services.

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