Who Are the Group Favourites for the Men's Olympic Football?

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Men's Olympic Football Odds: Group A

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.


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Men's Olympic Football odds: Group B

By far the weakest section in the competition with the group favourites South Korea priced at 20/1 outright as well as two of the rank outsiders. South Korea are the big favourites at EVENS to win the group and with good reason. Much of the side selected here were also in the side that reached the U19s World Cup final in 2019, including Kang-in Lee of Valencia who was named player of the tournament. One of their overage picks, Hwang Ui-jo of Bordeaux, got double figures in Ligue 1 last season.

Romania, at 5/2 to win the group, have qualified for their first Olympics since 1964 thanks to reaching the semi-finals of the U21 Euros in 2019 where they notably beat England 4-2. Their only overage pick is 25-year-old Florin Stefan who has just been released by domestic club Sepsi Sfantu Gheorghe and has just one senior cap.

Both Honduras and New Zealand are 5/1 to win the group and the Central American's will fancy their chances in a weak group compared to the one they impressively qualified from in 2016 which included Portugal and Argentina as they went on to finish fourth. New Zealand have recognisable names in the form of Chris Wood and Winston Reid in the squad but promising Bayern Munich youngster Sarpreet Singh has been left out to help find a loan move during preseason.

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Men's Olympic Football odds: Group C

Group C includes the outright favourites for the gold medal, Spain, and it is no surprise considering much of the squad consists of players who helped La Roja reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020. Pedri, Dani Olmo, Mikel Oyarzabal, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia and Marco Asensio are among just some of the star players in the squad and while fatigue and burnout may be an issue, their side is certainly the strongest on paper and the bookies have them at 8/13 to win Group C.

Their nearest challenges will likely be Argentina at 2/1. The team will hope to make amends for their embarrassing group stage exit in Brazil in 2016, finishing behind Honduras, but it is difficult to see how this squad of players can compete with that of the Spanish. The recent Copa America means many of their talented youngsters went there instead and starts like Lionel Messi will not attend.

Egypt and Australia make up the rest of the group but both look extremely weak on paper in comparison to the heavyweights. The Aussies have struggled to qualify since moving into Asian football, this is their first appearance since 2008. Much of the squad are A-League and EFL players, while their backup goalkeeper, Jordan Holmes, plays for sixth tier Ebbsfleet United.

When all is considered, Spain shouldn't just win the group, but ease and dominate their way to gold.

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Men's Olympic Football odds: Group D

The holders and the runners-up from the last edition in 2016 will both contest Group D, with Brazil favourites to top the group at 4/5 and Germany just behind at 13/8. Brazil have named a strong side with Richarlison, Antony, Matheus Cunha, Reinier, Gabriel Martinelli and Malcolm offering typical mouthwatering Brazilian talent while they have utilised their overage picks to bolster the defence with 38-year-old Dani Alves skippering the squad along with Diego Carlos at the back.

Germany lost to Brazil on penalties in the Maracana five years ago but have the chance to exact revenge in the opening fixture, and if they do, they will more than likely win the group. They do not have the glittering talent of the Brazilians but they do have plenty of Bundesliga experience in their ranks, including Max Kruse who is close to a century of goals in the division.

Ivory Coast are unfortunate to have been drawn in such a difficult group as they have a squad which could have potentially competed much better in the other three groups. With Amad Diallo, Franck Kessie, Christian Kouame and Max Gradel in attack, they are a serious threat, whilst Eric Bailly is also in defence.

Saudi Arabia are the rank outsiders at 18/1, having been drawn alongside three competent outfits. Their three overage picks, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Salem Al-Dawsari and Salman Al-Faraj all featured in Russia 2018 with the latter two scoring in the win over Egypt, but they were also part of the side beaten 5-0 by the hosts.

By Andrew Delaney


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