Yokohama, June 30, 2002. World Cup Final. Brazil and Germany. Ronaldo beats Oliver Kahn twice. The first after a glaring failure by the goalkeeper (elected the best player in the competition) when trying to fit a shot from Rivaldo and release the ball at the Phenomeno’s feet. The so-called “football country” became, there, a five-time world champion.
Yokohama, June 22, 2021. Again Brazil and Germany. Different scenario from almost two decades ago, it’s true. Even so, there could not be a more symbolic place in Japan for the men’s team to start their journey at the Tokyo Olympics, in search of what could be a second gold medal in the sport. The ball starts at 8:30 am (Brasilia time).
Interestingly, the last game of the men’s team in an Olympics was exactly against the Germans, also a great memory for the green and yellow side of history. Almost five years ago, on August 20, 2016, more than 63,000 fans, who painted Maracanã in Brazilian colors, went down when Neymar hit the left corner of the goal defended by Timo Horn and declared victory on penalties, by 5 to 4 (after a 1-1 draw in normal time and no goals in overtime), which gave Brazil the then-unprecedented Olympic gold in football.
The characters of this Thursday (22) are completely different from those of Maracanã, despite a similarity: it is on the Brazilian side that the most turned players are. Of the 22 athletes that make up the team led by André Jardine, five have already defended the main team, against four in the German team. Only Daniel Alves, 38 years old, two World Cups played and 118 performances for the hopscotch, surpasses the total number of games in the German quartet.
Interestingly, the full-back is the only one of the three players over the age of 24 called up by Jardine to have experience with the senior national team. The others (goalkeeper Santos and defender Diego Carlos) are still looking for their first chance, which can be boosted by the Olympics, as happened five years ago with Weverton.
In addition to Daniel Alves, defensive midfielders Bruno Guimarães, Matheus Henrique and Douglas Luiz have already defended the main team, as well as striker Richarlison. The last two, in fact, were in the vice-championship of this year’s Copa America. On the other hand, Gabriel Menino, although he has not played, was called up by Tite in September last year for Brazil’s first games in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which will be in Qatar.
Brazil must act with Santos; Daniel Alves, Diego Carlos, Nino and Guilherme Arana; Douglas Luiz, Bruno Guimarães and Claudinho; Richarlison, Matheus Cunha and Antony.
On the German side, the three players over the age limit made it through the senior team, but lackluster. Striker Max Kruse, 33, is the one who received the most opportunities (14). Attacking midfielder Nadiem Amiri, 24 (who turns 25 in October), has played five times. Midfielder Maximilian Arnold played only one game, but in May 2014. Of the youngest players, the only one to receive an opportunity was 24-year-old full-back Benjamin Henrichs.
Another detail is that only Arnold (Wolfsburg) and Henrichs (RB Leipzig), among the 18 called up by coach Stefan Kuntz, defend clubs that qualified for the 2021/2022 edition of the Champions League, in other words, that were among the top four of the last season of the German Championship. In a recent press conference, the coach complained that local teams did not support the assembly of the selection, and that some athletes were not interested in the Olympics.
No wonder, only two present on the Kuntz list for Tokyo (Henrichs and Amiri) were holders in the decision of the U21 Euro Cup in 2019, which classified the Germans for the Games. In addition to them, forward Marco Richter took the field in the 2-1 defeat to Spain. Goalkeeper Florian Müller, defender Felix Uduokhai and midfielders Arne Maier and Eduard Löwen did not leave the bench.
+ Learn about the effectiveness of each vaccine against Covid-19