Road to Rio: Neymar leads the line as Brazil go big for football gold
They may be the most successful footballing nation on the planet in terms of World Cup success, but amazingly Brazil have never won Olympic gold. That looks all set to change in 2016 however.
The five-time world champions were runners-up four years ago in London, losing to Mexico in the final, and claimed bronze in Beijing.
This time A Selecao are going all out for Gold, and a quick look at their squad shows they want to steal all the headlines this summer.
Barcelona star Neymar is the headline name in Brazil’s squad, and at 24, is one of the three players over 23 permitted in each team.
But it’s not just the former Santos man who is why the host nation are hotly-fancied.
Latest crop of Brazilian wonderkids will shine on the big stage
Scouts from a plethora of Europe’s biggest clubs will be eagerly keeping an eye on the two 19-year-old wonderkids, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Barbosa.
Both are tipped to be next superstars to emerge from South America, with Jesus closing in on a move to Man City, and Barbosa – or Gabigol as he is known – to Juventus.
Add in quality players such as Marquinhos and Rafina, and only a Gold medal is acceptable for Brazil at this year’s Olympics.
Old rivals will be left reflecting on past glories
Local rivals and two-time Gold medallists Argentina will also be in the mix, but there’s little doubting this year’s squad pales in comparison to their successful 2004 and 2008 entrants.
Carlos Tevez and Javier Saviola ran the show 12 years ago, while a golden generation of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Juan Riquelme proved untouchable four years later.
But this time Albicelestes are looking to Angel Correa, and good though he is, it seems the Argentines haven’t quite got the quality of Games gone by.
Another nation with great pedigree – but who lack Olympic medals – are Germany, who make their first appearance since 1988.
Twin brothers Lars and Sven Bender make up two of their elder statesmen in Brazil, while Arsenal fans will be keen to see how Serge Gnabry fares this summer.
But in truth, all eyes will be on one team and one team only – the hosts and their amazing array of attacking potential.
*Ladbrokes is not an official sponsor of the Olympics and is in no way affiliated with any of the competing athletes, events or competitions being held in Rio de Janeiro this summer*