Nations: Gabon, Mexico, South Korea, Switzerland
Group B is arguably the most open of all the groups. This group is very tight and will take some getting out of, all teams are capable of taking points of each other. Slight favorites from the start here would be Mexico with their superior attacking options and top level overage players.
July 26 – Mexico vs. South Korea (9:30 a.m. ET; St. James Park, Newcastle).
July 26 – Gabon vs. Switzerland (12:15 p.m. ET; St. James Park, Newcastle).
July 29 – Mexico vs. Gabon (9:30 a.m. ET; City of Coventry Stadium, Coventry).
July 29 – South Korea vs. Switzerland (12:15 p.m. ET; City of Coventry Stadium, Coventry).
Aug. 1 – Mexico vs. Switzerland (12 p.m. ET; Millennium Stadium, Cardiff).
Aug. 1 – South Korea vs. Gabon (12 p.m. ET; Wembley Stadium, London).
Mexico : Mexico brings a strong team to the Olympics, but the intention was for it to be even stronger.
Missing Stars : Star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was barred from playing in the tournament by his club, Manchester United, while standout forward Carlos Vela and midfielder Jonathan dos Santos both refused invitations to play, earning the ire of the Mexican Football Federation. If goal-scoring proves to be a problem for Mexico, the absences of Hernandez and Vela will loom large.
Team Preview : The olympic side romped home to landing the Concacaf championship scoring 16 goals and conceding just 3 goals, they carried on scoring and winning with another 14 goals in the successful Toulon tournament. The core of this Mexican side have played many games together and should go into the tournament with confidence and an outside chance of winning it. With the addition of three very good overage players Mexico tick all the boxes.
Key Players : Giovanni Dos Santos can play in any forward position and even on the wing. Its hard to believe he’s still only 23, he hasn’t really settled in Europe having played for 6 clubs already. He’s played many games for Mexico though and has scored 14 goals in 59 senior appearances.
Marco Fabian is undoubtedly Mexico’s emerging star and has an amazing scoring rate for Mexico youth sides. Topping the scoring charts with 5 goals and 7 goals in the last two finals. The Chivas man has an impressive 27 goals in 125 league games also.
Prediction : Should qualify for the next round with ease. But they could face either Uruguay or GB in the next round and progress to the semi’s will be a tall order.
Switzerland go into the tournament after a successful qualifying phase were they never conceded a single goal until the final (a 2-0 loss to Spain). The team is a multi ethnic blend of rising stars. They have garnered success at youth levels recently thanks to an overhaul of their development system. Playing a brand of high quality,high spirited football Swiss youth football is on the ascendency. The most interesting point of team selection was the overage players, low key selections were made which shows the trust the manager has in his U23 side. The denial of Bayern Munich to let fantastic talent Xherdan Shaqiri play and the last minute rejection from Fiorentina to stop Behrami playing is disappointing but the Swiss team still has some excellent players in Fabian Frei, Innocent Emeghara and Pajtim Kasami.
Key Players : Pajtim Kasami a centre midfielder with excellent creative play will be their man to watch.Kasami will be a constant threat during the Olympics
Innocent Emeghara and Admir Mehmedi were an excellent partnership that caused many problems in qualification. The two clever forwards combined well and should carry this understanding on in London.
Prediction : They will be very hard to break at the back and Expect the Swiss defense – now backed by overage addition Benaglio – to be just as stingy in London. Will fight with South Korea for the second spot in this group.
South Korea will look to improve on their many finals disappointments, having qualified an impressive eight times they have never bettered a quarter final finish. South Korea went unbeaten in qualification winning four and drawing four. Particularly strong in defence having only conceded 3 goals in 8 matches.Legendary player Hong Myung-Bo manages the side and has kept faith with mainly the same starting eleven. It will be interesting to see how the three over age players fit in the team as only striker Park Chu-Young is a high profile player. Motivation will be high for the team as any Korean winning an olympic medal is exempt from military service.
Key Players : Koo Ja-Cheol is an all action midfilder with a terrific engine, offers great support to the attackers and usually captains the side.Koo Ja Choal and Park Ji Sung
Ki Sung-Yeung has become the pivotal man for Celtic and a mainstay for South Korea even though still only 23. Supremely talented central midfielder with excellent vision and passing ability. Danger man from set pieces.
Prediction : They are on a similar level with Switzerland and the match between these two teams could prove to be the decider in this group.
Gabon have qualified for the first time in their history. They look unlikely to be able to progress but there is no doubt they have quality.They have had terrible preperations with some internal FA wranglings that have effected the team. Currently preparing in Austria the team have suffered injuries, most importantly to star man Andre Poko, who will be a massive loss. One major plus is that half the Olympic side make up the senior national side. They will be comfortable playing with each other and will be difficult opposition in Group B.
Key Player : Star man:Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will lead the line for Gabon, The St Etienne striker will be looking to carry his fine form on in London.
Prediction : Least favored in the group and will play with nothing to loose and might prove tricky opponents at time.