Brazil and Spain will contest the gold medal match in men’s football at the Olympics in Yokohama on Saturday 7 August after winning their respective semi-finals, with Mexico and hosts Japan to fight it out for the bronze medal 24 hours earlier.
Brazil are seeking to become only the fourth reigning champions in the 121-year history of the men’s Olympic competition to successfully defend their title after Great Britain, Hungary and Argentina.
Spain, meanwhile, are hoping to win a first Olympic gold since 1992 when a team including Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique emerged victorious on home soil. This is already guaranteed to be their first football medal of any colour since winning a silver in 2000.
Brazil needed 120 minutes and a penalty shootout to successfully see off Mexico and take revenge for shock defeat in the 2012 gold medal match nine years ago.
Brazil edged possession at the Kashima Stadium. But while both teams created chances to score, nothing could separate the two sides in 90 minutes or through extra-time.
It was Brazil who went first in the shootout, relying on veteran star Dani Alves to given them an early lead and he didn’t disappoint. Mexico’s Eduardo Aguirre then saw his attempt saved, before Gabriel Martinelli converted to double Brazil’s lead and Johan Vasquez struck the post.
Bruno Guimaraes and Carlos Rodriguez then netted for each side, giving Reinier the chance to put Brazil out of reach with the Selecao’s fourth spot-kick, and he duly obliged.
Having got through their quarter-final against Ivory Coast thanks to a desperately late equaliser and a flurry of goals in extra-time, Spain again found themselves playing an extra half hour after being unable to break down Japan in the city of Saitama.
This time, the contest was goal-less until the closing stages of extra-time when Marco Asensio pulled off the decisive blow. Japan had earlier looked a threat on the counter attack, while Spain’s Mikel Oyarzabal was guilty of missing chances that could have ended things earlier.
As many as six of Spain’s starting lineup have played at Euro 2020 already this summer, a testament to their endurance off the back of a long club 2020/21 club season.
Japan have never won an Olympic medal in men’s football and will have the opportunity to change that here. The closest they have previously come is fourth in 2012.