The English Premier League might be set for August 13, but before the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City fight for the title, there’s the little matter of the Olympic Games to complete.
Now, in comparison to other international football events, the Olympics aren’t always a major draw. Unlike the World Cup or European Championships, the 16 teams in the Olympics can only have three players over the age of 23.
This dynamic often excludes many of the game’s biggest stars; nevertheless, the competition still offers football fans a chance to watch some international action and see the stars of the future. Naturally, as with any football event, fans and pundits are already trying to predict who will walk away with a gold medal.
Of course, to look into the future with any degree of accuracy you should always be willing to assess the past. So, with this in mind, we’ve picked out some footballing lessons from recent times and used them to suggest some Olympic hopefuls who could finish on top.
Long Shots Won’t Always Fall Short
As we’ve said, the past is often an indicator of the future and thanks to the bgo blog we now know some of the most outlandish international football bets in history. Taking a look through bgo’s list of improbably but highly lucrative bets, the £5,000 won by an undisclosed punter is one that proves anything can happen in international football.
With one minute to go in normal time and Mali losing 4-0 to Angola, a canny punter decided to bet £5 on the former avoiding defeat. Anteing up at odds of 1,000-1, the man won his bet in impressive style. What can we learn from this? That it pays to go for the big wins.
Looking at the current odds, Fiji and Honduras are 80/1 long shots for Olympic gold. However, with teams essentially being made up of youngsters and Mali proving underdogs can win, there’s no reason these teams couldn’t upset the odds.
The Favourites Don’t Always Win
One lesson that history has taught us is that the favourites don’t always win. If you were to scan the betting markets at Stan James prior to Euro 2016 you would have seen France at the top of the shop. Aside from being the host nation, the odds makers were tipping the French at 9/2 thanks to the likes of Pogba and Payet.
However, despite being the in-form team heading into the final, France lost to Portugal. While the side that lines up in Rio won’t be quite the same as the one that won in Paris, the betting line at ComeOn is currently 10/1. Essentially, you should be willing to look past the favourites in Rio.
Don’t Forget About Neymar!
Despite saying that it’s ok to look beyond the favourites in Rio, it’s vitally important to remember one name this summer: Neymar. Continuing our theme of the past informing the future, Neymar has proved on countless occasions that he’s more than capable of winning games on his own and that means Brazil will be hard to beat.
In fact, even though the 24-year-old will have to take up one of the “overage” places, he’s still one of the youngest talents in the game and will be something of an inspiration for his compatriots in August. Indeed, if he can add to his 46 international goals, it’s certainly worth backing Brazil for gold in the coming weeks.
Of course, anything can happen once the whistle blows and the tackles start to fly in, but if you are thinking of sticking your neck out and predicting a winner, make sure you listen to the lessons of the past before you ante-up.