Tokyo Olympics: Savvier Brazil beat Spain to men's football gold
The men’s football gold medal deservedly went to Brazil. AS journalist Aritz Gabilondo put noses out of joint by suggesting on Spanish radio that they wanted it more than Spain, and I have to say I agree with him. In the Olympics, second and third are also rewarded - in the shape of silver and bronze medals - but in football there's a greater tendency to look no further than first place, particularly in Brazilian football. Despite Saturday’s disappointment, Spain can return home proud and will be applauded for their tournament, but that wouldn’t have happened to Brazil if they’d lost. So a difference in motivation was very noticeable in the first half, and reasserted itself after Spain got the equaliser. Dani Alves and co took gold because they wanted it more.
Spain were second best for much of the final
It was a good final, and Brazil not only showed a greater will to win, but were also savvier. Spain only had the upper hand for a spell in the second half, when they were improved by the introduction of Carlos Soler and Bryan Gil, and attacked with verve and penetration. They got themselves level, and saw two efforts strike the crossbar; one was a bit of a fluke, but the other was a sublime shot by Gil. Given it was 1-1 at the time, that could have been the goal that set Spain up for glory. It would be unfair on Brazil to focus solely on that moment, though. Aside from their goal, they had missed a penalty before then, and had also hit the bar. Once the game went into extra time, André Jardine's side definitively re-established themselves as the better team, particularly after Malcom was brought on.
Spain were missing something in defence and in front of goal
This Spanish team is a good footballing side, but lacks forcefulness at the back and cutting edge up top. Being brutally honest, Luis de la Fuente's men gifted Brazil both their goals. Spain’s defenders are good on the ball, but didn’t show that level of assertiveness that is needed in the position. However, the team’s consistent determination to play on the front foot, coupled with their ability to keep on negotiating the obstacles in their way, should be praised. It's because of those qualities that they have come away from Japan with a silver medal. Even if they might not have seen it like that in Brazil, that's no mean feat. Spain's players deserve our congratulations and a much-needed chance to recharge their batteries.
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