Brazil vs. Sweden — Noon EDT
Canada vs. Germany — 3 p.m. EDT
Gold medal match — 4:30 p.m. EDT Friday
Marta and the Brazil women had a pair of blowouts to start the tournament before drawing 0-0 with Brazil and needing a shootout after another scoreless match versus Australia in the quarterfinals. It’s hard to imagine them being held off the board again, but Sweden coach Pia Sundhage is coming off a clinical shutdown of the reigning World Cup champion United States women’s national team. Anything’s possible, but look for Brazil to break out having clobbered Sweden 5-1 in the group stage.
On the other side, the tournament’s two leading scorers match wits when Germany’s Melanie Behringer (four goals) and Canada’s Janine Beckie (three) meet in Brazil. Don’t think of these women as strictly finishers, as they’ve been dynamite playmakers. Germany will be favored, but Canada has perhaps the finest women’s attacker of all-time in Christine Sinclair. She’ll likely make a different on Tuesday, as might Melissa Tancredi. She scored both goals as Canada beat Germany 2-1 to claim Group F.
Brazil vs. Honduras — Noon EDT
Nigeria vs. Germany — 3 p.m. EDT
Gold medal match — 4:30 p.m. EDT Saturday
Brazil’s path to the gold medal match will have the same obstacles as most of its previous matches, albeit ratcheted up a notch. Honduras is one of the most physical, nastiest programs in the world, and persistent infringement is headed Neymar’s way. Still, the Brazilians will be widely expected to win.
On the other side of the bracket, Germany’s Serge Gnabry has been fantastic. The Arsenal youngster has been a gamechanger, but both he and Germany will have to deal with a big, gifted Nigeria team that has thrived despite controversy over travel and pay.
20-year-old Nigerian striker Oghenekaro Etebo continues to make a name for himself. Entering the games with five goals in 7 games for the senior national team, he’s added four in Rio with the U-23 side. It’s safe to say Portuguese third-tier side Feirense is getting calls.
The edge is Germany’s, but there’s no good reason to bet against Mikel John Obi (or John Obi Mikel, for those inclined to his longtime Chelsea name).
Through four rounds of the penalty shootout in the women’s soccer quarterfinal between Brazil and Australia the penalty takers were perfect, with all eight shooters finding the back of the net. Up stepped Marta, one of the best players in the history of the sport, with the hopes of the host nation resting on her shoulders. But Australian keeper Lydia Williams was up to the challenge, stopping Marta’s shot and placing Australia one made penalty from pulling off the upset.
With her captain needing her to step up, Barbara stopped Katrina Gorry’s penalty to extend the shootout. And in the eighth round Barbara stepped forward once again, stopping Alanna Kennedy’s penalty to push Brazil into the semifinals (0-0; 7-6 Brazil on penalties) where they’ll face Sweden Tuesday.
Brazil applied more offensive pressure throughout the majority of the match, but only ten of their 29 shots were on target. The closest they came to scoring came in the 90th minute, when a cross sent in by left back Tamires reached Andressa Alves, whose shot was saved by an extended Williams. Brazil also earned 19 corner kicks on the night, but they were unable to truly break down an Australian team that looked dangerous on the counter on multiple occasions.
Offensively the Brazilians were missing that final finisher, which isn’t a surprise when considering that the all-time leading goal scorer in Olympic history (Cristiane) was sidelined due to yellow card accumulation. She’ll be back for the semifinals, where they’re likely to run into another team looking to benefit from the counterattack in Sweden.
Sweden won the first match of the day, advancing on penalties against two-time defending Olympic gold medalists United States. The other semifinal matchup Tuesday pits Canada against Germany, with the Canadians beating France 1-0 and Germany eliminating China by a similar scoreline.