Two years after suffering humiliation on home soil in the form of a 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semifinals of the World Cup, Brazil entered the Summer Olympics with high expectations for their men’s soccer team. With the tournament being a U-23 affair with teams being allowed three overage players, the presence of Neymar Jr. and a home crowd had to be enough to get Brazil its first-ever gold medal in the sport, right?
Well, after two matches the home team has yet to score a goal. Sunday night Brazil was held to a 0-0 draw by Iraq, applying even more pressure to Neymar and company ahead of their group stage finale against Denmark Wednesday. The Danes currently lead Group A on four points after they defeated South Africa, 1-0, Sunday.
The U-23 level isn’t on par with the senior competitions, but for a nation long known for its abilities on the pitch not having an Olympic gold medal is a curiosity of sorts when it comes to Brazil. While the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus have managed to create scoring opportunities in their matches against South Africa and Iraq, they haven’t been able to put the ball into the back of the net.
Brazil can still go through to the knockout stage, with a win over Denmark being enough to ensure progress. But with the goals non-existent, the home team finds itself in a more perilous position than anyone expected before the tournament began.