Brazil vs Germany and old ghosts

2016-08-19 01:13:16 GMT2016-08-19 09:13:16(Beijing Time) Agencies

THE first half was not even over and Brazilian fans, 3-0 up in the semifinal against Honduras, were chanting, “Germany, just you wait, your time is coming”.

A few hours later, their wish came true and after the Germans beat Nigeria 2-0 in the other semifinal one of the most intriguing sub-plots of the Olympics was set: an under-23 version of the unforgettable 2014 World Cup semifinal that finished Brazil 1, Germany 7.

That six-goal mauling left a huge scar on Brazil’s footballing psyche and as the chants showed, fans are desperate to get revenge if not on the full German side, then at least on a German side.

As they left the Maracana after their 6-0 win, Brazil’s players did not know if Germany would beat Nigeria in the second semifinal. But it did, and that was good news for full back Douglas Santos.

Most of his teammates preferred to downplay a potential revenge match and Santos was one of the few to admit there will be a special atmosphere at the Maracana when two of the greatest national teams in the world meet tomorrow.

“I don’t see it as being about revenge, for me it’s an opportunity,” said the Atletico Mineiro defender. “It will be an opportunity to turn around something the fans today talk about as a difficult defeat. God willing, we’ll reverse that score line.”

In reality, the similarities between that game and tomorrow’s don’t go much farther than the names on the tickets.

The teams that play the Olympic tournament comprise players under the age of 23, with three overage players permitted on each team. Neymar is the only player on either squad to have played in the 2014 World Cup and he missed the Germany game through injury.

And although neither side has won the Olympic gold, communist East Germany won it in 1976, that is largely irrelevant to Germany but of huge importance to Brazil and it has gone all out to break its gold medal hoodoo.

Brazil called up Neymar, arguably its only world-class player, as well as a host of its top performers that includes Gabriel Jesus, who signed for Manchester City last month for 27 million pounds (US$35.5 million); Gabriel Barbosa, the 19-year old striker nicknamed Gabigol; and PSG defender Marquinhos.

Brazilian sides were happy to let their players miss league duty to play in the Olympics because they are so desperate to win that one elusive title.

German sides, meanwhile, were reluctant to let their top stars prioritize the Olympics over the Bundesliga and clubs are not obliged to release them.

Germany came to Brazil with no players from the country’s dominant club Bayern Munich and only four from the other three clubs that finished in the top four of last year’s Bundesliga.

As if those advantages were not enough, Brazil will have home advantage.

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