Spain favored to win soccer gold at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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July 20th, 2021

While the soccer world unwinds from the Euros and Copa America and looks ahead to next year’s World Cup, there is one more international tournament still yet to be played. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will feature the world’s under-23 tournament, although the rules have been changed to allow for 24-year old players due to COVID-19.

Spain are the current favorites to win the men’s gold medal, with Brazil a close second in the odds followed by France, Argentina, and Germany.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics men's soccer odds


Let’s take a look at whether you should place your money on Spain winning it all, or if you will find value with another contender.

Spain’s roster full of Euro experience

Unlike the majority of clubs around the world, local laws prevent Spanish clubs from objecting to national team call-ups for Spanish players. As such, six players will be headed to Tokyo who took place in this summer’s European Championships for La Furia Roja. Starting keeper Unai Simon will see Eric Garcia and Pau Torres partner in front of him, while the Young Player of the Tournament will feature in midfield as Pedri is included in the squad. In attack, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal, both who were regular substitutes, will help lead the line.

Each team is allowed three players over the age limit, and two of them—Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio—have been regulars in the Spanish team over the past few years. Ceballos only missed out on Euros due to injury, and Asensio was a final cut before the tournament. They provide plenty of experience to the side, and further elevate the squad to the most talented in the entire tournament.

Why Spain deserve to be favored

When compared to the other rosters in the Olympics, Spain is simply better than everyone else. Nearly every player in the team ploys their trade at a club residing in one of the "big five" leagues in the world. With nine of the 22 players having played in either Champions League or Europa League already, they are also more experienced in big competitions than any other squad to qualify.

Perhaps more importantly, manager Luis de la Fuenta knows what almost all of these players are good at, having managed the Spanish U-19 squad for five years before taking over the U-21 job in 2018. The players trust him and have an excellent relationship with him, which is often vital in a knockout tournament as he pulls every string possible to secure victory.

Can Brazil or France pull off the upset?

Brazil’s roster has plenty of talent as well, but question marks abound regarding their maturity and their back line. Dani Alves will be on the squad, but is a serious liability at right back, while a trio of Premier League talent will feature as well. Everton’s Richarlison is taking no rest after playing much of Copa America, while Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz will help protect the back line. Their secret weapon could be Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli, who many believe needs to have a breakout performance for Brazil to stand atop the podium. However, their three keepers and much of their backline are untested at the major level, playing primarily in Brazil, and it could be their downfall.

The only other real contender is France, but they will not have star forward Kylian Mbappe as PSG refused to release him for another tournament. They will have just three players from the Euro 2020 squad, but they call on two aging players from Tigres in Mexico’s Liga MX to help steer the ship in winger Florian Thauvin and forward Andre-Pierre Gignac. They will be supported in attack by forward Nathanael Mbuku, but their midfield might not be good enough to get the job done.

Simply put, your best bet is to wager on Spain to have gold placed around their neck after the final on Aug. 7. Spain is currently paying nearly two-to-one to win their first Olympic gold in men’s soccer since 1992, and it is the best value in the tournament.