Germany has never won a gold medal in Olympic soccer, though the East German men won in 1976. In 2016, both the men and women’s teams have a chance to do something no country has ever done, win double gold. Simply getting to this stage is unprecedented for either side, as Germany hasn’t done better than a Bronze in any Olympics.
The women’s team will play Friday, in their head coach’s final match, they’ll take on a Swedish side that would very much like to complete the hat trick of giant killings. Meanwhile, on Saturday the men will take the field against Brazil, in a match that will be more of an exorcism for the hosts than anything else. Brazil will want sweet revenge on a nation who defeated them 7-1 in the World Cup semifinal. And Brazil would love to win their first gold medal while they are hosting.
Women’s Final: Germany Vs Sweden, Friday 4:30 (Eastern)
Since 2005, Silvia Neid has been the head coach of the German Women’s team, winning a World Cup, two European championships, and an Olympic bronze medal. She’ll coach her last game for her country on Friday, with one last chance at gold. Standing in her way is Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, who can become the first coach to win gold with two different nations. Sundhage won gold in 2008 and 2012 with the USWNT. She can also become the first coach to win three consecutive gold medals in women’s soccer.
The two coaches will approach Friday’s final differently, Sweden will be the underdog, and as seen in matches against Brazil and the US, they’ll sit deep and try to frustrate the Germans. On paper this should be a winnable game for the two-time world champions, but as Sweden have shown, the games aren’t played on paper. Sundhage’s team are coming into the final with tremendous confidence after knocking out two of the tournament’s biggest teams. While their style of play has received plenty of criticism, most notably from US keeper Hope Solo, it’s been effective.
Germany boasts the tournament’s top scorer to this point in captain Melanie Behringer, she plays her club soccer for Bayern Munich and has been with the national team for over a decade. She’s a capable goal scorer and will be one of Germany’s main weapons against Sweden’s defense. Sweden will try to counter this by doing exactly what got them here. If Sweden can launch counters to Caroline Seger they could pull off the upset and send Sundhage home with another gold. If Germany can break down Sweden’s defense better than the US or Brazil they’ll finally win Olympic gold and give Neid the perfect farewell gift.
Men’s Final: Germany Vs Brazil, Saturday 4:30 (Eastern)
Remember the last time Brazil played Germany in a major tournament?
Time for revenge?https://t.co/yr3fjLBSrB pic.twitter.com/KsYVPl6md9
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 17, 2016
On a handful of occasions, a game is more than a game. For Brazilians, Saturday’s meeting with Germany in the gold medal game will be either a national moment of catharsis or another chapter in history of coming up short on home soil. The meeting at the Maracanã on Saturday will be Brazil’s best chance to avenge the humiliation that took place two summers ago. No one who took part in that 7-1 thumping will be on the pitch on Saturday but for the whole of Brazil, that doesn’t matter. It’s payback time.
Germany meanwhile obviously have other ideas as they, just like the women’s team, go for their very first Olympic gold in Olympic history. Two years after winning the World Cup in the same stadium they’ll feel confident they can get the job done. However, it wasn’t easy for Germany at the start of the tournament. They just barely saved their skins in the opening round when Arsenal youngster Serge Gnabry scored a late equalizer against South Korea. They needed a 10-0 hammering of Fiji to overturn the goal difference in their group.
Brazil didn’t start well either, failing to score in their first two matches, but like Germany, they found their stride. Neymar is, without question, the best player in this tournament and he’s been good in his last few performances, setting the record for fastest goal in the Olympics against Honduras. With Neymar and the high scoring Germans who have joint top scorers in the tournament in Gnarby and former Bayern striker Nils Petersen, it has the makings of an exciting final.
To the Brazilians, this is a must win. The chance to win their first Olympic medal as well as exorcise the demons of 2014 should be more than enough motivation for anyone. Germany will want to take back a gold medal along with the women’s team and proclaim themselves the first ever double gold Olympic champions. Both countries are in fine form and it should provide for an entertaining night, that will almost certainly not finish 7-1.