Changing China

Giant on the move

Argentina see off sorry Brazil

August 19, 2008

Messi and RonaldinhoThe cheers before kickoff in the Beijing Workers’ Stadium were for five-times world champions Brazil and Ronaldinho. At the final whistle, the Chinese crowd rose to acclaim Argentina after a 3-0 win against nine-man Brazil sent them through to the Olympic final.

China may be a relatively untapped soccer market, but the 50,000 plus crowd knew that the best team had won on the night.

The Olympic tournament, with its uneasy format of under-23s and a smattering of over-age players, has plenty of critics, but Brazil v Argentina is a big match in any competition.

So much so that even the ultra-efficient Beijing organisers struggled to shoehorn the hundreds of accredited press and associated media folk into the seating reserved for them. The post-match press conference was an all-ticket affair, with Portuguese and Spanish-speaking reporters given priority.

Argentina, inspired by captain Juan Roman Riquelme and the darting Lionel Messi, made their superiority count after halftime, running in their three goals in the space of less than 20 minutes.

All the marginal decisions went their way – Brazil appealed in vain for offside when Sergio Aguero scored his second to put Argentina 2-0 ahead. Shortly after Brazil’s Pato had the ball in the net, but this time the goal was ruled out for offside and there was no way back.

So plenty to think about for national coach Dunga, who has given the impression during this tournament of wishing he were elsewhere. Plenty too to ponder for Ronaldinho, who looked out of sorts as he prepares for life with AC Milan after a disappointing  final season with Barcelona.

For defending champions Argentina, it’s a showdown at noon on Saturday with Nigeria in the Bird’s Nest Stadium. That’s a repeat of the 1996 final, a cracking match won 3-2 by Nigeria thanks to two late goals.

Let’s hope the two teams can defy the heat and serve up another classic for the maligned Olympic soccer tournament.

PHOTO: Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) speaks with Brazil’s Ronaldinho after Argentina won their semi-final soccer match in Worker’s Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, August 19, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar


What? There’s football at the Olympics? I had no idea…


Yes, there is football at the olympics. But possibly your team isn’t in it. (you have to qualify to play!)

Posted by Tucson | Report as abusive

Yes, there’s football in the Olympics. All the top footballing nations outside western europe are taking it seriously and it’s great!

Argentina for the gold!!!

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

I can assure you the England would be there, however in the Olympics we enter as Great Britain & NI, so FIFA always throw a spanner in the works!

Posted by BritishTeam42012 | Report as abusive

That would be great if there is soccer for the Olympics. Its nice to see all the teams in the race. Thats soccer race….

Posted by mackanrow | Report as abusive

Judging by comments from Sepp Blatter today the Olympic football format will be the same in London in 2012. Clearly the football will be a major focus if Britain can work out how to field a united team.
My own view is that the football here is entertaining because there is a little less pressure than at a World Cup – although Dunga might disagree after the stick he got for Brazil’s woeful showing on Tuesday.


As long as SOuth America is present, you better believe that soccer will be present. The Olympics is another opportunity to represent your colors and be proud by doing so. I am so glad that Messi as well as Rafinha and Diego were able to play. I am also glad to see the best team in the world winning another gold metal. Vamos Argentina.

Posted by Robert M | Report as abusive

i feel Brazil will strike gold at the Olympics and they have the famous Ronaldinho with them and i think they will do a splendid job.

Posted by mackanrow | Report as abusive

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