For nearly a week, it looked like yet another disastrous tournament was in the cards for Brazil. After a pair of 0-0 draws against South Africa and Iraq, a Neymar-led squad was inconceivably on the outside looking in on a place in the knockout rounds. Coming into the final game of Group A, Brazil needed a victory to avoid national embarrassment and advance to the quarterfinals.
The same day Argentina and defending gold medalists Mexico were bounced from the group stage in their final games, it seemed inevitable that another big shock would come in the form of Olympic host Brazil failing to advance.
Fortunately for fans of the Seleção, a 4-0 victory against Denmark put all those fears to rest.
With two goals from emerging star Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa and two more from recent Manchester City signee Gabriel Jesus and Luan, Brazilian fans were again given a sense of hope their team could go on to win their first ever gold medal. On a night when Neymar and co. finally found their groove, Brazilian fans once again were cheering on the home team, having booed them off the field the first two matches.
Barcelona star Neymar has asked for similar support as the team moves forward in the knockout rounds, stating “I know it’s hard, but I ask the fans to be patient and do not criticize. Support us because that’s what we need – love and help from the people.”
Though they aren’t as highly regarded as they were coming into the tournament, Brazil still has every opportunity to win the gold medal they so desperately crave. Saturday night, they will take on rising power Colombia, who easily handled the upstart Nigerians 2-0.
These two teams met two years ago in the World Cup, as Brazil came away with the 2-1 victory to advance to the semifinals. With Brazil starting to find their form, this 2014 rematch against a potent offensive side in Colombia should be one of the best games in the Olympics.