All eyes will be on the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in London on Friday but prior to that the games get underway around the country when the Olympic football kicks off on Wednesday and Thursday.
The mens tournament gets going with eight matches playing at venues across the UK on Thursday and Stuart Pearce’s Team GB meet Senegal at Old Trafford for their opening Group A fixture.
Following the ease with which tournament favourites Brazil brushed aside Great Britain in the pre-games friendly at the Riverside last week, Pearce will be grateful the draw matched his side against relatively weak opposition in Senegal and UAE before the challenge of the well-fancied Uruguay in the final group game. It allows the lightly-prepared Great Britain team time to gel before the bigger tests to come.
Craig Bellamy and Daniel Sturridge provide the fire power up front and will aim to give more penetration against Senegal than they could muster against the experienced Brazilians. They face the Senegal U23 side which finished fourth in the CAF Championships in 2011 and have beaten Spain and Switzerland in the run up to London 2012.
How much stock can be taken from these friendlies is difficult to gauge and it’s worth bearing in mind Senegal was the last team to reach the Olympics having to beat Oman in a play off. A 3-0 defeat against South Korea in the final warm up doesn’t suggest the Senegalese will have what it takes to cause an upset against Great Britain on its home territory.
Team GB is expected to prove too strong for Senegal and pick up three valuable points towards qualification to the knock out stages. The top two teams in each group progress to the next stage.
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