The group phase of the men's Olympic soccer event at this summer's Olympics is now done and hosts Japan have emerged as the big winners with the only 100% record. Big guns France, Germany and Argentina have all gone home while Spain are yet to get out of second gear with arguably the strongest squad.
We take a look at how the remaining teams stack up ahead of the quarterfinals.
First, the qualified teams:
- Group A: Japan & Mexico
- Group B: South Korea & New Zealand
- Group C: Spain & Egypt
- Group D: Brazil & Ivory Coast
Next, the quarterfinal draw:
- Japan vs. New Zealand (Kashima)
- Spain vs. Ivory Coast (Rifu)
- South Korea vs. Mexico (Yokohama)
- Brazil vs. Egypt (Saitama)
Now, the rankings:
1. Japan (--)
There can be no argument that Samurai Blue are currently the strongest team left in the competition with Hajime Moriyasu's men excelling on home soil. Star man Takefusa Kubo has scored in each group stage game so far and seven goals scored for just one conceded represents a healthy return with five different goal scorers to date. With all due respect to the OlyWhites, it will also feel like a favorable draw ahead of a potential semifinal against Spain or Ivory Coast.
2. Brazil (+1)
Second to the Japanese are the Seleção who remain unbeaten and have scored seven goals as they topped Group D. Richarlison now leads the scoring charts with five while Paulinho and Matheus Da Cunha have also chipped in. Three goals conceded might be a slight worry ahead of the matchup with a resolute Egypt side, but they look to have enough firepower to at least reach the semis.
3. South Korea (+7)
After a disappointing start with defeat to New Zealand, the Koreans have blown away Romania and Honduras with 10 goals without reply. Lee Kang-in and Hwang Ui-jo have both scored three goals apiece across those two prolific matches and Mexico will be wary of Kim Hak-bum's confident players before they meet in Yokohama.
4. Mexico (+4)
El Tri themselves are another potential dark to make a deep run after big wins over France and South Africa sandwiched a narrow loss to Japan. Alexis Vega has scored from two of three group games for Jaime Lozano's troops and both sides will feel that they could advance past Brazil or Egypt if they get as far as the semifinals.
5. Ivory Coast (-1)
The Ivorians just managed to get it over the line in Group D with a 1-1 draw against Germany and that pits them against Spain. On paper, it is a tall order, but Soualiho Haidara's side have been tricky customers for most so far. Unless the Spanish find a new and unseen gear in their quarterfinal, Les Elephants could provide a significant shock.
6. Spain (-4)
Unbeaten, La Rojita topped Group C, but it was with two draws and one narrow victory with plenty questioning the physical state of many of their key players. Egypt and eliminated Argentina managed to hold them and it required a late Mikel Oyarzabal goal to beat Australia. Potentially the strongest remaining squad in Japan, they need to start living up to their billing.
7. New Zealand (+5)
Fairly efficient with three goals from as many games and two clean sheets, the OlyWhites have beaten a strong South Korea and were unlucky against a heroic Honduras before drawing a blank with Romania. Hosts Japan is a tall order in their current form, but with that form comes the pressure of expectancy while New Zealand are already writing history with their progress.
8. Egypt (+7)
Plucky underdogs with a penchant for clean sheets, the Egyptians advanced behind Spain with just two goals scored and just one conceded. That might not be enough against the might of Brazil's attack, but the encounter going beyond 90 minutes should not be ruled out.