Three thoughts after the first day of Olympic men's soccer in U.K.
In its first game as a unified British team, GB played to a disappointing 1-1 tie
Asian teams don't have big names, but after Day 1, it's clear they're underrated
Brazilian offensive attack is exhilarating, but will it prove too risky during Games?
MANCHESTER, England -- Three thoughts on Day 1 of Olympic men's soccer:
The Brits will wish they had done better: In its first competitive game as a unified British soccer team since 1960, the hosts gave up a late equalizer to tie Senegal 1-1 here at Old Trafford after the West Africans had somehow avoided a red card despite a series of brutal tackles. It wasn't the typical crowd you'd see for a Manchester United game -- the sellout throng did The Wave, of all things, and didn't know any songs to sing for a unified British team -- but they did chant "G-B!" a lot and made a ruckus when Craig Bellamy's well-taken half-volley put the hosts on top. Bellamy was just one of the players on the receiving end of reckless Senegalese tackles, but Uzbek ref Ravshan Irmatov seemed scared to pull out his red, and Moussa Konate broke through for a late equalizer that sent the fans home thinking this was two points lost. While it was cool to see Man United legend Ryan Giggs on the field at Old Trafford, the draw won't quiet those critics who think David Beckham should have been on the team as well.
Asian soccer continues being underrated: The big upset of the day was Japan's 1-0 victory over a Spanish team that featured such names as Juan Mata, Jordi Alba, David De Gea and Javi Martínez. The Japanese looked sharp from the start, scored a deserved goal on a corner kick and should have added more if not for some poor finishing late in the game. Like the Japanese, South Korea has excelled in youth development in recent years, which is why it was no surprise the Koreans outplayed Mexico in a 0-0 tie. Even the United Arab Emirates did Asia proud, giving Uruguay trouble (and taking a 1-0 lead) before falling 2-1. The Asian teams don't have the biggest names in this tournament, but at least one of these countries may leave here with a medal.
Does Brazil have what it takes to win Olympic gold?: The five-time World Cup champions have never won an Olympic gold medal, despite the attempts of such superstars as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Romário over the years. But the most fearsome display on Day 1 was the show Brazil put on against Egypt in a remarkable opening half-hour, scoring three times through Rafael, Leandro Damião and 20-year-old starlet Neymar. Just when you thought the Brazilians were going to send a clear message, though, they gave up two second-half goals to make things dicey before holding on for a 3-2 win. Everyone loves a Brazilian team that simply tries to outscore its foes, but will that strategy prove too risky over the duration of the tournament?