London 2012 Olympics - Semi-final: Brazil vs. South Korea
South Korea dealt a huge blow to the home support by defeating Team GB in their London 2012 Olympics quarter-final meeting at the Millennium Stadium. The Koreans went through 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, denying the hosts the opportunity to see how much they had improved since being easily dispatched by Brazil in a pre-tournament friendly.
Meanwhile, Brazil twice had to come from behind against Honduras to book their own place in the semis, following strikes from Mario Martinez and Roger Espinoza. Leandro Damião netted two goals and won the penalty that Neymar converted, in a performance that warranted his inclusion ahead of Alexandre Pato. He will likely retain his place against South Korea in an attempt to fire his side into the final.
The Seleção have found the net three times in each of their four games, compared to their opponents who have only scored three goals so far. Hulk and Neymar will partner Damião in attack, with the Neymar keen to build on his burgeoning reputation. He has taken some stick so far in the tournament for going to ground too easily, but must be hoping to leave a more lasting impression of his undoubted talent.
Brazil will stick to their principals of ball retention and hitting their flair players in the channels, but also showed qualities of determination and composure to overcome the Hondurans. They will perhaps need to show an equal measure of doggedness against a South Korea team that will work hard for the duration of the game.
The Koreans have only conceded two goals so far at London 2012, which represents a defensive record that Brazil will respect. The favourites will take the game to their opponents, but may have to be patient should an early breakthrough not prove to be forthcoming. They will also have to keep their shape to ensure that Korea are not able to deploy the counter-attack tactic that could be their best hope of success.
Hong Myung-Bo's side have been difficult to beat throughout the Olympic football tournament, including the qualifying campaign that saw them finish undefeated. It will be their first appearance at the semi-final stage of the Olympics, with the winner facing either Mexico or Japan in the Gold medal match at Wembley on Saturday.
The South Korean players have been offered an added incentive in their attempts to bring home a medal. If they are successful, they have been promised exemption from the compulsory national service that must be completed before the age of 29. Should they emerge victorious at Old Trafford, at least a silver medal will be guaranteed and with it the exemption.