Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Olympic Football: Previewing Team GB

With the football season still a matter of weeks away, football fans have the opportunity to fill their time with the Olympic football that is taking place right on our doorsteps. With the games being hosted in Britain this year, some of the world's best teams will be competing for the coverted gold medal. Fixtures are to be played in a variety of stadiums in the country, including Wembley, Old Trafford and St. James Park.

picture: mirror.co.uk
Having released the squad only recently, Stuart Pearce is leading the British side for the games. With the exclusion of David Beckham from the squad being met with disappointment, Pearce's squad still contains a lot of talent with a good mix of experience and youth. With the likes of Brazil and Spain involved, chances of a gold medal will be difficult.

Qualifying as hosts, this will be the first time since the 1960 games in Italy that Team GB will compete in the games in the football event. Having failed to qualify for the games between 1964 and 1972, the Football Association stopped recognising the difference between professional and amateur footballers in 1974. This ending the existence of the English national amateur team which was the basis of the Olympic team and because of this, the FA stopped entering a British Olympic side.

The team this year, will be led by Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs who is joined by Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards who all qualify as the 'over age players'. The rest of the squad are all under the age of 23 following the rules of the tournament that all squads must have a mix of experience and youth in their squads.

Despite losing key man Gareth Bale to injury, Team GB will enter the games with a promising squad. Goalkeeper Jack Butland was called up to the England Euro 2012 squad as a replacement for the injured John Ruddy and he is set to be GB's number one. At 19, the Birmingham City stopper is rated very highly. Despite missing out on a Euro 2012 place for England, Micah Richards, Adam Johnson and Daniel Sturridge all take their place and will be key figures if Team GB are to do well. Promising midfielders Joe Allen and Jack Cork get their chance to shine at the games having had good seasons with their respective clubs.

picture: thefa.com
Pearce's side were drawn in Group A alongside Senegal, UAE and Uruguay. With the likes of strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the South Americans will be tough opponents for Team GB. Senegal will represent in the games for the first time ever and bring a squad containing Mohamed Diame and Magaye Gueye who both play their trade in England. Final opponents UAE will also be representing at the games for the first time after failing to get through the qualifiers on all previous attempts. Out of the ten games they played in the qualifiers, UAE won seven and drew three.

Team GB's games don't start until the 26th July where they begin their campaign by playing Senegal at Old Trafford. They play their next game three days later where they face UAE at Wembley and finish their group games by playing Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on the 1st August.

Stuart Pearce's team will fancy their chances of going far in the tournament especially with Argentina missing this time and only Brazil and Spain as the only other teams that may offer some sort of difficulty. With a promising and youthful squad alongside the leadership of Ryan Giggs, Team GB must expect themselves to achieve a medal by the end.

Team GBR squad: 

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jason Steele, Alex McCarthy

Defenders: Neil Taylor, Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose, Steven Caulker, Craig Dawson, James Tomkins, Micah Richards, Ryan Bennett

Midfielders: Tom Cleverley, Joe Allen, Ryan Giggs, Jack Cork, Aaron Ramsey, Scott Sinclair, Adam Johnson

Strikers: Daniel Sturridge, Craig Bellamy, Marvin Sordell, Jordan Rhodes

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