Defending champions Brazil have been clubbed in the same group as powerhouse Germany in the men’s Olympic football tournament, the draw for which was announced in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday.
Besides the two footballing giants, the other two teams in Group D are Côte d’Ivoire and Saudi Arabia.
The group features a repeat of the 2016 Rio Olympics final, where the home favourites won on penalties after Max Meyer had cancelled out talismanic captain Neymar’s first-half free-kick.
In Group C, Argentina, gold medallists at 2004 Athens 2004 and 2008 Beijing, take on 1992 Barcelona Olympic champions Spain in what is primed to be one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes of the group stage. They will be joined by Australia and Egypt.
Japan have been drawn in Group A, where they will face off against South Africa, Mexico and France. The competition, which starts on July 22 at the Sapporo Dome in Tokyo, will begin with the hosts taking on a South Africa side that qualified for the Olympics after a penalty shootout win against Ghana in the Junior Nations Cup.
The opening round of the tournament has thrown up some tough challenges for Japan, with group opponents Mexico recently winning the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers thanks, in no small part, to the prolific strike partnership of Sebastian Cordova and Uriel Antuna.
France could also pose a significant threat to Japan, with a potential team of stars that includes Odsonne Edouard (Celtic), Colin Dagba (PSG), Jules Kounde (Sevilla) and Eduardo Kamavinga (Rennes), among others.
This year, the men’s Olympic football tournament will be made up of players under the age of 24, with each participating country allowed to supplement their squad with three overage players.
Group A: Japan, South Africa, Mexico, France.
Group B: New Zealand, Korea Republic, Honduras, Romania.
Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia.
Group D: Brazil, Germany, Côte d’Ivoire, Saudi Arabia.