Jul 28, 2016

    Heat is on Neymar-led team to win Rio gold


    THERE are 28 sports at the Olympics but many home fans will be happy if the hosts win just one, as their young football team seek to finally secure the only international title that has so far eluded Brazil.

    Brazil are preparing for the Rio Games men's tournament like never before.

    The pressure is on the five-time world champions, particularly coming just two years after the senior side lost 7-1 at home to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals.

    Led by Barcelona striker Neymar, Brazil have the most expensive squad in the tournament and goalkeeper Fernando Prass said coping with the mounting pressure will be key to their performance.

    Although the home fans will be behind them this time, neither form nor history are on the under-23 team's side.

    Brazil could finish only fourth in last year's South American qualifying tournament from which Argentina and Colombia went through but their place as hosts was safe.

    And while they beat South Africa 3-1 in March, they lost 1-0 to Nigeria at home a few days earlier.

    Moreover, the host team have won the Olympic gold medal only three times in 23 attempts dating back to 1908.

    Brazil's biggest rivals could come from the country who beat them to gold in the 2012 London Games.

    Title holders Mexico, the only North American team ever to win the tournament, are also looking to restore some pride.

    Their senior side were hammered 7-0 by Chile in June's Copa America.

    But they will fancy their chances with Oribe Peralta, who scored both their goals in the win over Brazil four years ago, on duty again.

    The Nordic challenge will also be strong, with Sweden and Denmark joining Portugal and Germany as the European representatives.