France are most fancied to win Group A mainly due to their status as a top footballing nation and one with a blossoming youth system in what is essentially an U23 competition. However, despite their absurd riches in the youth department, many have not been picked or been released by their clubs. Two of their three overage players also now play in Mexico (Andre-Pierre Gignac and Florian Thauvin) while much of the squad have limited Ligue 1 experience.
Despite being 10/11 to win the group, expect France to be severely challenged by the hosts Japan at 9/4, a side who have the potential to be a real dark horse. Superstar youngster Take Kubo of Real Madrid is the main man and the new poster boy of Japanese football. Ritsu Doan of PSV Eindhoven will partner him in an attacking midfield role and they look very solid defensively too with Maya Yoshida named as one of the designated overage players partnering the duo of Ko Itakura and Takehiro Tomiyasu who have both had excellent seasons in Holland and Italy, respectively.
Mexico are 7/2 to win the group but with the Gold Cup currently taking place in the USA, that has taken priority over the Olympics meaning a weakened squad has been selected here, while the rank outsiders are South Africa at 16/1. African nations have overachieved in the Olympics in recent years with Nigeria claiming a gold, silver and bronze since 1996 and Cameroon winning gold in 2000, but this side will do well to make it out of the group, something they have failed to do on their only two appearances.