Both the women’s and men’s Olympic soccer tournaments have completed one game and while they still have two more games to go in the group stage, some teams have already set themselves up for advancement while others have work to do.
In the women’s tournament, since 2/3 of the field qualify for the knockout stage, that makes things a bit easier for teams to advance. Since only a single third place team will not go to the knockout stage, three points is more than likely good enough to advance.
And because there were no draws in the first day, that means Brazil, Sweden, Germany, Canada, France and the United States are already as good as in. They will be looking to position themselves into having an easier road to gold.
Now, focusing on the six teams that lost, only two of these six teams are likely to advance. We can probably eliminate Zimbabwe since they would be lucky to score a goal, much less win. Because of that, Australia should be able to beat Zimbabwe and get the three points to get in. It would also probably help if they beat Zimbabwe by a bunch of goals for goal differential. So the final spot goes to either South Africa, China, New Zealand and Colombia. While New Zealand and Colombia are in the toughest group, whoever can grab a win against their group opponent will have the key to advance. A draw doesn’t do anybody any good. South Africa vs. China and New Zealand vs. Colombia is Saturday so we will know pretty quickly who is moving on.
For the men, it gets a bit tougher since half of the 16 teams advance to the knockout stage. This means, similar to the men’s World Cup, only the top two from each group advance. Nigeria, South Korea, Portugal and Honduras got wins so they obviously have the advantage to move on, but another draw or win is likely needed to ensure advancement.
At the same time, Japan, Fiji, Algeria and Argentina lost and face a must-win on Sunday. Fiji, like Zimbabwe on the women’s side, is there to hopefully score a goal, much less win so that’ll be their goal. The teams that drew, Brazil, Denmark, Iraq, South Africa, Colombia, Sweden, Germany and Mexico all are still alive and will look for more results in the final two games. Ironically, the three favorites, Brazil, Germany and Mexico all drew so if any of those three don’t win on Sunday, the pressure will go up as they face possible elimination Wednesday.