The football tournament in every Summer Olympic games is about the young players, but each nation is allowed three that are over the age of 23. As usual, the biggest names in the tournament, like Ryan Giggs, Juan Mata, Luis Suarez, Thiago Silva, Hulk and Edinson Cavani, are among the veterans in the tournament.
Great Britain – Micah Richard, Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy
At the age of 38, after 64 caps for the Welsh national team and 909 matches with Manchester United, Ryan Giggs gets a shot at a big international trophy, the Olympic Gold Medal, captaining the British team in the tournament. This was another one of those season’s where you’d grab your head, asking yourself how Giggs is still doing it, but to be honest, he did seem a bit outclassed in some of the bigger matches.
Craig Bellamy, another Welshman, was somewhat of contestant for Giggs’ captain armband in the Olympic games, but there’s really no comparing between the two in terms of experiences and what they both achieved during their careers. Bellamy scored 9 goals in 33 matches for Liverpool this season.
Micah Richards omission from Euro 2012 was somewhat of a surprise for some, at least as a backup for Glen Johnson. The 24 year old has played 13 times for England and was a on again, off again part of Manchester City’s title this season in the Premier League, battling for the spot in the lineup with Pablo Zabaleta.
Senegal – Dame N’Doye
Senegal also have Papa Gueye (Metalist) and Mohamed Diamé (West Ham) as their over-age players, but there’s little doubt about N’Doye of FC Copenhagen being the main potential for goals and excitement on the side, with Ibrahima Baldé next to him up front. N’Doye has played only 12 times for Senegal so far in his career, making his late debut in 2011, as FC Copenhagen still manage to hang on to him despite showing his scoring ability both in Denmark, with 82 goals in 150 matches for the club and in the Champions League.
Uruguay – Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani
While Egidio Arévalo Ríos is also one of the over aged players on the squad, he’s yet to make his debut for Palermo and isn’t quite the name both Luis Suarez of Liverpool and Edinson Cavani, still of Napoli, are. Not just in the Olympics, the duo strike force of Cavani & Suarez makes one of the best striking duos in the world.
Suarez didn’t have the best of seasons with Liverpool, scoring 17 goals in 39 matches for the team, and few would argue he’s one of the best forwards in the world. Cavani had another brilliant season in the South of Italy with 33 goals in 47 matches. On the international stage, Suarez is the better finisher at the moment with 28 goals in 54 caps for the national side, already scoring six goals in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Brazil – Hulk, Marcelo, Thiago Silva
As usual, Brazil offer quite a few big names, with Neymar being the biggest star on this team filled with players that are chased by the biggest clubs in Europe. Hulk, although one of the three veterans on the team, is also one of those chased ones, but at the moment remains at Porto as no one can match their incredible demands. He has scored three goals for the national team in 13 caps, all friendly matches.
Marcelo of Real Madrid has also rarely been used by the national team, playing 12 times and scoring 4 goals, also all in friendly matches. He was part of the Brazilian team that finished third in the 2008 Olympic games. He had a very good season for Real Madrid in 2011-2012, winning his third league title since joining the club.
Thiago Silva was about to become the most expensive defender in history before the deal between Milan and PSG fell apart, keeping the 27 year old, the oldest player on the squad, in Italy. Silva is regarded by many as one of the best centre backs in the world, playing 27 times for the national side, beginning his international career as part of the 2008 Bronze team in Beijing.
Spain – Adrian Lopez, Juan Mata, Javi Martinez
Spain will be the favorites in the Olympic tournament as well, making the Olympic tournament for the first time since 2000, when they finished with the Silver medal. This Spanish side is mostly built on the players the led the team to a victorious European U-21 campaign last summer, bolstered by three European champions from just over a week ago – Mata, Martinez and Jordi Alba. Martinez was also part of the 2010 World Cup winning side.
Adrian Lopez had a good season with Atletico Madrid, playing as more of a winger after commanding a more central role playing for Deportivo, finishing 2011-2012 with 19 goals in 55 matches, including 11 in the Europa League campaign that ended with the trophy. Mata was one of the few players who can call themselves pleased about their season at Chelsea, scoring 12 goals and adding 22 assists in all competitions. Javi Martniez turned into more of a centre back this year in Bilbao, sought after by a few of the continent’s bigger clubs.