Six footballers (men and women) to cheer for at the 2020 Olympics

Olympic football may not receive as much fanfare as the World Cup or the Euros, but for football lovers, it promises plenty of excitement. A number of players are aiming to leave their mark on this competition, but six of them, we believe, have the best shot at making an impact. Our list of six to watch out for:

1.Pedri (Pedro Gonzalez Lopez): Barcelona’s teenage wonderkid is coming off a stellar Euro 2020 campaign, where he bagged the Young Player of the Tournament Award. He may be old enough to vote, but the 18-year-old plays like a veteran. His remarkable technical skills earn him comparisons with Andres Iniesta. He will represent his country for the first time in the Olympics and looks set to continue his meteoric rise, which has seen him become one of the best young midfielders in the world. 2.Dani Alves: From a possible future Barcelona Legend, we move on to a player who already is one. The 36-year-old Brazilian isn’t the all-encompassing force that he once was, but his experience will bring leadership to a side that severely lacks it. The rules of the Olympics state that a team can have only three players above the age of 23, so the selection of Alves as one of them was a wise move by head coach Andre Jardine. The Sao Paulo Right Back has won practically everything there is to be won in the beautiful game. His stacked trophy cabinet includes countless league trophies and multiple Champions League winners’ medals, plus two Copa America cups at the national level. A winner in every sense of the word, Alves is likely to consider anything less than the Olympic Gold to be a major disappointment.3.Takehiro Tomiyasu: This Bologna player’s name may not be known to the casual football fan, but all of that may change after this Olympics, for the 22-year-old has a very strong case for shining as Japan’s best player. Tomiyasu has impressed at the club level with his elegance on the ball as well as his ability to occupy multiple positions, being able to play both Right Back and Centre Back. Though his performances may have slipped the radar of more casual fans, they haven’t been unnoticed by talent scouts, as several top clubs have been linked with him, notably Tottenham Hotspur. This summer isn’t just an opportunity for Tomiyasu to represent his country. It could potentially be his ticket to one of Europe’s elite clubs.

4. Vivianne Miedema: Despite the tournament being in its initial stages, the Dutch forward has already made her presence felt by netting four goals in the Netherlands’ 10-3 win over Zambia. After Wednesday’s performance, the 25-year-old, who’s already her country’s top scorer, has a staggering record of 76 goals in 97 international appearances. If her early form continues, she may potentially lead her team singlehandedly to Olympic glory.

5. Fran Kirby: This year, she became the first woman to win the Football Writers’ Association’s Woman Footballer of the Year award for the second time. She received this honour after notching up 25 goals and 18 assists in all her outings for Chelsea, helping the London club to a record fourth FA Women’s Super League title. What makes these accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that the 28-year-old forward had to spend six months on the sidelines after being diagnosed with a heart condition in 2019. Great Britain may have a tough road to success, but the team knows that it can count on its resilient talisman to deliver on the big stage.

6.Carli Llyod: At 39, this may be Carli Llyod’s last chance to showcase her talents on the big stage, even as she hopes to help the US team become the first women’s side to win both the World Cup and Olympic gold back-to-back. If she can’t manage to do so, the loss won’t take anything away from a glittering career that has seen Lloyd win two Olympic gold medals and two World Cups. The midfielder’s brilliance is so undeniable that even in a squad full of mega-stars, she still stands out.–IANS