Whilst football at the Olympics has been something of a hard sell in the United Kingdom, it certainly won’t be the case at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil always take the event seriously, which is why it’s such a surprise that they have never won Gold, taking home the bronze medal on two occasions in 1996 and 2008.
But, with Argentina failing to qualify and an exciting crop of young players, expectation levels are high ahead of the trip to London, with manager Mano Menezes naming Hulk, Marcelo and Thiago Silva as the Selecao’s three over-age players.
It’s their crop of younger players that should really excite the crowds in the British Isles this summer though, and ahead of their friendly against Team GB on July 20th, GiveMeFootball picks out five players still plying their trade in South America and capable of making a big impact on the big stage…
Neymar – 20-years-old (Santos)
The jewel in the crown of Brazilian football, Santos starlet Neymar is recognised as the great hope in his homeland, and has even been described as the best player in the world by Pele.
With skill in abundance, a lightning turn of pace and the ability to embarrass goalkeepers with his finishing, there appears to be little this player can’t do.
Negative attributes might be his lack of physical presence and inability in the air, but they haven’t stopped Lionel Messi from re-writing the history books of world football with Barcelona.
With nine goals in 18 matches for the Selecao, the future appears very bright, and Neymar is the must-see player this summer if fans get a chance to catch some Olympic football.
Ganso – 22-years-old (Santos)
At 22, Paulo Henrique Ganso is one of the older players in the Brazil pack, having graduated to the senior national team in 2010.
However, the four-year professional has made just eight appearances at the highest level, and will look to use these Games as a chance to cement his place in the side ahead of the home World Cup in two years time.
Another midfielder who likes to get forward, Ganso has been linked with a move to England in the past, but a complicated contractual arrangement in South America means a transfer would be difficult to implement.
Oscar – 20-years-old (Internacional)
Another attacking midfielder with a big reputation, press reports today claim that Oscar has signed for Chelsea in a £25 million deal.
Whether that’s true or not is yet to be seen, but Oscar certainly has all the attributes to be a Premier League player, with a fine turn of pace, an ability to play a key pass and a keen eye for goal.
After starting out at Sao Paulo, Oscar signed for Internacional in 2010, helped the U20 national side to the FIFA World Cup with a hat-trick in the final the following year, and now stands on the verge of making a major impact at the Olympics.
Lucas Moura – 19-years-old (Sao Paulo)
Linked with Manchester United in the UK’s national newspapers, Lucas is regarded as one of the hottest properties in world football after bursting onto the scene back home in 2010.
With 15 caps to his name already, the versatile attacking midfielder has established himself within the national side, and also plays on the wing for club-and-country when called upon.
A solitary goal against Argentina is also on his impressive record, and Lucas will be out to impress the watching European suitors this summer.
Leandro Damiao – 22-years-old (Internacional)
A dangerous striker who was heavily linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur 12 months ago, Damiao has a fine goalscoring record at the Beira-Rio after turning professional in 2010.
With a solitary goal in nine full international appearances for Brazil, it appears that Damiao is far from the finished article just yet. However, Ronaldo singled out the striker as the player most likely to fill his shoes at the 2014 World Cup on home soil, and this could be the perfect platform for Damiao to reach the next level.
Some top performances could also put the player in the shop window for a move to Europe.