Olympic Opposition Files: Serge Gnabry and Max Meyer lead talented Germany side into final

Germany U23

Germany U23

With Brazil one game away from ending their quest for gold at the Rio games on Saturday, Brasil Global Tour takes a closer look at the Selecao’s rivals

 Nickname: Die Mannschaft (The Team)
 Olympic medals: Bronze (1964, 1988)
 Top Goalscorer: Gottfried Fuchs / Frank Mill (10)
 Most Caps: Christian Schreier (22)

Coach: Horst Hrubesch

Horst Hrubesch will bid farewell to a world that has been his life for 45 years. In those four-and-a-half decades, the 65-year-old has done it all. He’s coached domestically both home and abroad and led his national team to European titles at under-19 and under-21 level, and been assistant coach of the senior team.

Saturday’s Olympic final at the Maracana will bring down the curtain on a glittering career in which he helped plant a number of the seeds that brought Germany’s stunning World Cup 2014 glory.

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He has one task left. Like Brazil, Germany are international football superpower with one glaring hole in their trophy cabinet – reserved for that long-awaited Olympic gold.

“It is definitely something special,” he told Fifa.com ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “I always said that Germany aren’t going out there just to take part.”

Rising Star: Serge Gnabry 

The 21-year-old Arsenal starlet wasn’t supposed to play a major role in the games this month, but he has done exactly that after winning a place in the team during the team’s time in Brazil. Ahead of Saturday’s final, the Stuttgart-born attacker is Rio 2016’s joint top-scorer with six goals – tied with Nils Petersen, who grabbed all but one of his in the 10-0 drubbing of minnows Fiji.

His electric pace, close dribbling and eye for goal will pose the sort of threat the Selecao are yet to face in the games. He likes to operate from the left and Brazil’s full-back Zeca may well have to curb his enthusiasm a little in order to manage Germanys biggest goal threat.

One to watch: Max Meyer

A teenage prodigy, Schalke’s Max Meyer has long been tipped for superstardom. The 20-year-old has represented his country at every age level and made his senior team debut in May 2014 before narrowly missing out on the squad that would lift the World Cup in Brazil.

A quick, incisive dribbler with an eye for a defence-splitting pass, he will seek to float around between the lines of Brazil’s midfield and defence and may well force the Selecao’s lone defensive midfielder Walace to sit deeper than usual. With three assist and three goals in five matches at the games, Meyer will have to be stopped if Rogerio Micale’s Brazil are to end the tournament without conceding a goal.

The view from the opposition

Falko Bloeding – Goal Germany

Preparations for the tournament proved problematic for Germany. Hrubesch, who is a popular figure back home, struggled to get his team together for what will likely be his last tournament in the role. A number of clubs refused to release their players for the Olympic games, insisting a missed pre-season would damage their preparations for the new campaign. 

Also, many of the young players technically available to him had been in action at Euro 2016, causing Hrubesch to delay the announcement of his final squad for Rio 2016. That left his group with just two training sessions together before travelling to Brazil.

So it was little wonder that they got off to a slow start, struggling to a 2-2 draw against Mexico in their opening match. But the team have slowly gelled and improved with every game since, forming a strong bond and on-field cohesion throughout August. The likes of Niklas Sule and Max Meyer are tipped to be future stars of the senior team, and thet have embraced roles as leaders at the games, especially after captain Leon Goretzka suffered a shoulder injury in his team’s tournament opener and had to return home.

Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry has been a surprise star in Brazil. He replaced Goretzka against Mexico and has gone on to become the competition’s top scorer, displaying the talent that has him so highly-rated in North London.

Germany have a hugely talented squad, with Julian Brandt, Matthias Ginter and Timo Horn also looking future stars of the domestic game. Brazil may well go into Saturday’s final as favourites, but they must be careful not to underestimate Hrubesch’s side 

And regarding all the talk of the 7-1, it really has not seen many column inches back home in Germany, where the Olympic Games still do not have anything like the prestige of senior international competitions.

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