Rio Olympics 2016: Brazil searching for redemption in gold medal match

Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring his side's 6th goal during a semi-final match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Brazil and Honduras. Photo / AP
Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring his side's 6th goal during a semi-final match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Brazil and Honduras. Photo / AP

Brazilians know the 7-1 loss to Germany's senior team at the World Cup will never be forgotten. That doesn't mean that defeating the rivals in the Olympic final wouldn't have a special sweetness.

Two years after the humiliating home defeat, Brazil faces Germany's under-23 team on Saturday with a chance to win the soccer gold medal for the first time.

Victory would give Brazil the only trophy it hasn't won in soccer, but not revenge for 2014.

"That was the World Cup, this is the Olympic team," Brazil coach Rogerio Micale said.

"Neymar never played in that match so there is nothing that could generate any type of feeling that we have to take revenge. It is a different time with different players and ages."

Brazilian fans, however, have been looking forward to the rematch against the Germans, even if it's in a tournament played mostly with youth squads and without the same importance as the World Cup. As Brazil routed Honduras in the semifinals, the crowd at the Maracana chanted that Germany's "turn is coming up."

"The supporters are playing their role and we will need the supporters as this is a very strong German team," Micale said. "The supporters will want what they want, but there is no link between that match and this one."

Germany coach Horst Hrubesch also distanced his team from what happened at the World Cup.

"What counts is this game, the Olympic final," he said. "It is a different team and we are here to live our dream right to the end."

Neymar was a member of Brazil's squad in 2014 but didn't play against Germany after breaking a bone in his back in the quarterfinals against Colombia.

"There is nothing like playing at home and having the chance of winning something that we've dreamed about for so long," Neymar said Friday. "We are focused only on playing well and winning this gold medal."

The only Germany player who was in the World Cup is Matthias Ginter, but he was on the bench and never played in the infamous game at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

"We know that it's going to be a different environment to be playing against Germany again," Brazil goalkeeper Weverton said. "But nobody here played in that final. What happened in the past is in the past, nothing is going to change that, even if we win by seven goals. We have a chance to create our own history, for our generation to do something different and earn this gold for Brazil."

Playing at home and with Neymar, Brazil is taking the Olympic tournament more seriously than ever. It arrived at the Rio de Janeiro Games as the main title-favorite and with the obligation of winning the elusive gold, which is the only trophy the five-time World Cup champions have never won in soccer. Neymar skipped the Copa America just to try to help Brazil win at the Olympics.

Brazil finished with the silver medal three times and the bronze twice. Four years ago, it lost to Mexico in the final in London.

This is the third straight Olympics in which Brazil has brought some of its best players looking for gold. Neymar also played in 2012, and in 2008 in Beijing it failed with a team led by Ronaldinho. Brazil also finished second in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1988 in Seoul, the second time with a team that included Romario and Bebeto. Brazil won the bronze in 1996 in Atlanta with striker Ronaldo.

Victory in Rio would help restore some of Brazil's soccer pride after the World Cup defeat and this year's elimination in the group stage of the Copa America. Brazil's last title was at the 2013 Confederations Cup, when the final was also at the Maracana.

Germany is playing in the Olympics for the first time since 1998, when Jurgen Klinsmann was on the team. It won the bronze at the time, when it competed as West Germany. It has never won the gold.


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