Brazil signed up to host the Olympics for a myriad of reasons most of which are political, but in the sporting department their first priority was to win a gold medal in soccer. The Brazil Women's team lost yesterday to Sweden in penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes. So that leaves just the men's team to fill the only hole in the Brazilian soccer federation's trophy case.
If more motivation was needed for the home team Joao Havelange, a massive figure in Brazilian soccer history who ruled FIFA for 24 years preceding the Sepp Blatter era, died yesterday at the age of 100. Havelange was elected in a different era of soccer, it was 1974 and he was the first non-European to be elected FIFA head. Havelange also served on the International Olympic Committee (the IOC) for 48 years and was a swimmer in the 1936 Berlin Olympics representing Brazil and a member of the Brazil Water Polo team in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. Havelange's first line in his obituary will always start with a corruption legacy, but he was instrumental in creating the Women's World Cup, bringing the World Cup to USA in 1994 and getting Women's soccer into the Olympics.
How to Watch: Men's Olympic Semi-Finals:
Brazil started out the Olympics with consecutive 0-0 draws and all the attention was being focused on one question: "What's wrong with Brazil?" Well it turns out they were just growing into the tournament as they finished the group with a 4-0 win over a good Denmark team before dispatching Colombia 2-0 in the quarterfinals. Brazil have yet to give up a goal. They have dominated possession in every game and severely limited their opponents scoring opportunities. If Brazil just finished slightly better in their first two games we might be talking about how this is one of the most dominant teams in Rio.
Honduras are comfortable playing the underdog with no expectations. They beat the USA in the US to secure this Olympic berth when the narrative was that Jordan Morris and company would take care of business at home. Honduras beat South Korea in the quarterfinals and knocked out Argentina in the final group game. Brazil will be the big favorite and the Maracana will be absolutely rocking for this semi-final. But there have been memorable Brazilian defeats in the Maracana (1950 Uruguay, Yesterday Sweden) and memorable Brazilian defeats in home tournament semi-finals (Germany 7-1 Brazil) so count Honduras out at your peril.
Nigeria v Germany
Location: Corinthians Arena, Sao Paulo
TV: NBCSN, Olympic Soccer Channel
Streaming: Men's Soccer Semi-Final Match 1
After a logistic nightmare to start the Olympics that saw Nigeria only arrive in Manaus hours before their opening game kickoff, Nigeria has rolled through the field. A 5-4 win in their aforementioned opener against Japan was followed up by a 1-0 win over Sweden that secured first in their group and let them rest players in matchday 3. Nigeria then handled Denmark 2-0 in the quarterfinals to make it this far. The Nigerian team has a long history of performing extremely well in youth international tournaments and key members of this squad already earned a U-17 World Cup title with Nigeria as they have won five times in total and are the two time defending champions (2013 & 2015).
Germany are just fine with a rematch with Brazil after leaving a large dent on the collective psyche of the soccer watching public two summers ago. Germany actually finished a surprising second in their group behind South Korea but ahead of defending gold medalists Mexico which means they had a tough draw in the quarterfinals against a Portugal team that breezed through atop Group D. That lasted until halftime when they went to the break 0-0. Germany then proceeded to do Germany in Brazil things and dropped four goals on Portugal in the second half to finish 4-0.
Other Notable Olympic Broadcasts Today:
There are quarterfinals in team events throughout the day and quite a few individual sports are starting to wrap up now as well. Whatever channel you turn on, there will be medal implications. Except for BMX Cycling which finally joins the Rio party today (11 AM, NBCSN).
Men's Handball Quarterfinals: Brazil v France
9:30 AM, MSNBC
Badminton Mixed Doubles Finals, Table Tennis Men's Team Bronze Medal Match and Taekwondo
12:15 PM - 2 PM, USA Network
Men's Volleyball Quarterfinals: USA v Poland
1 PM, NBC
Men's Basketball Quarterfinals: USA v Argentina
2:30 PM, NBCSN
NBC Primetime will feature Usain Bolt in the 200M semi-final. Bolt is going for a historic triple double, 100M and 200M Gold Medal in three Olympics in a row. This is the last race he needs for the achievement. The US team could possibly go Gold-Silver-Bronze in the 100M hurdles. Women's Beach Volleyball Gold Medal game from Copacabana Beach caps the night.