Going back over previous posts to prepare for writing this one, I learnt something very interesting. I actually predicted before the tournament that Russia would win. I didn’t remember being so prescient. Perhaps I actually know more than I think. Or got as lucky as the proverbial blind squirrel. Let’s see how I go this time…
When I look at the pools for this tournament, I am stunned by how uneven they are. Normally they are uneven because the host is automatically seeded first and that pool is worse. This time it is the opposite. Brazil’s pool is ridiculously difficult. Canada will more than likely not make the quarter finals from that Pool A but would have been quietly confident of finishing third in Pool B. Such is life, so they say.
There are a few questions that are immediately raised. Will France be able to maintain their form of the last two years on the biggest stage? Will USA be able to regain the form they showed at World Cup? Will Brazil be able to withstand the biggest pressure a host nation has ever had to face? Will Italy be able to play half as well as they think they should? Will Canada be able to snag a victory and sneak into the quarter finals? Mexico?
For the record, my answers are yes, maybe, yes, no, maybe, ?. Finishing positions Brazil, France, USA, Canada, Italy, Mexico. I’m going for a bit of a surprise. Canada could win one match against the top teams, and Italy is the most likely.The
There are a few questions that are immediately raised. Will Poland be able to regain their world championship form? Will Russia be able to put the recent scandals behind them and regain their Olympic form? Will Argentina be able to reach their countries ultimate goal? Will Iran make the most of a never to be repeated opportunity to make the quarter finals? Will Egypt get an Olympic victory? Will Cuba be able to field a team?
For the record, my answers are no, no, no (win in Brazil), yes, yes, I guess so. Finishing positions Poland, Russia, Argentina, Iran, Egypt, Cuba. No surprises here. Although Argentina v Iran will be interesting.
This is where things will start to get really, really interesting. Any best of one tournaments are thrilling. This teams this time around are really well matched. If either Brazil, France, or Poland won the gold medal I wouldn’t be surprised. And Russia, Italy, and the USA wouldn’t surprise anyone by winning a medal. I am really excited about a lot of things in this tournament; France, Schmitt, Kubiak, Wallace, De Cecco, Zaytsev’s Olympic tat, Cuba’s youth team, Alekno, Bernardinho, press conferences ignoring the qualification process and Brazilian crowds when Brazil is playing. I am mostly excited about watching a France v Brazil gold medal match, Brazilian fans crying for joy and the Polish team joining them on the podium.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.