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Argentina looks to repeat Athens success

Source:     2008-07-25  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  
(BEIJING, July 25) -- As the Olympic men's football tournament approaches and football teams from around the world begin to arrive in Beijing, one question is bugging football fans worldwide, namely, who will survive the preliminary rounds and meet in the finals?

Among the 16 qualifiers, Argentina seems to be one of the most obvious candidates. The gold medalist at Athens 2004 stormed through the 2004 tournament without losing one match or even conceding one goal. The country also has a history of strong youth teams, winning the FIFA World Youth Championship a record six times. Argentina won the most recent edition of the championship, which was held in Canada in 2007.

Argentina's Olympic football squad was announced earlier this month and features Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, two talented young forwards who currently play for FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. Other key players include defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano from Liverpool and attacking midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme from Boca Juniors.

Despite being included in the squad, Messi still may miss Beijing 2008 because Barcelona expects its forward to play in the UEFA Champions League which will start in mid August.

Argentina's performance in the Olympic qualifiers was solid. They won three times, drew five, and lost once, scoring fifteen goals while conceding eight.

Other potential finalists include Italy and Brazil. Italy, the bronze medalist in Athens, also has an eye-catching record in youth competitions, winning five continental U-21 titles (1992, 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2004) in the UEFA European U-21 Championship. Key players for Italy include forward Giuseppe Rossi from Villarreal, defender Marco Motta from Udinese, and midfielder Claudio Marchisio from Juventus

Brazil's dominance in the football world is undeniable. However, the five-time world champion has never won an Olympic gold medal despite having contested consecutive finals in 1984 and 1988.

The Brazilians will be competing without Kaka, the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, because AC Milan refused to release him as an over-age player. However, fans in Beijing can expect to see another huge star, Ronaldinho, who also competed at Athens 2004. Other key players include midfielder Lucas from Liverpool and forward Alexandre Pato from AC Milan.

The clashes between other teams are also mouthwatering. The Netherlands proved again to be a crownless king after its national team defeated heavyweights France and Italy in the first round of EURO 2008, but were beaten by Russia in the quarterfinals. Nigeria, the first African nation to win Olympic gold in Atlanta 12 years ago, is also a potential gold medalist. And who knows whether a dark horse will replicate Turkey's semifinal-reaching performance at EURO 2008.

The round robin stage of the Beijing 2008 football tournament is scheduled to begin in Shanghai at 5:00 p.m local time (UTC/GMT +8) for the clash between Australia and Serbia.


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