Brazil Men's Soccer Has Won The Gold Medal, Defeating Team Germany In A World Cup Rematch
On Saturday, August 20th, soccer fans all over the world got an intriguing and exciting treat, regardless of which team you root for ― Team Brazil and Team Germany faced off in the men's soccer final, with Olympic gold medals on the line. And if that looks a little familiar, you're not wrong: that's the same match-up that you saw during the World Cup semifinals (also in Brazil) in 2014. But the results were far from the same this time around ― Brazil men's soccer has won the gold medal, defeating Team Germany by a final score of 1-1 in regulation and extra time, and concluding with a 5-4 shootout in penalty kicks.
If you're a soccer fan and you followed the 2014 World Cup tournament, then you probably remember how that tournament was decided ― with a thud. In the semifinal round, Germany defeated host nation Brazil in a 7-1 blowout, dealing the team a humiliating loss in front of its home fans.
But there was no repeat of that lopsided performance on in the Olympic finals in Rio, quite the contrary ― not only was it a tight, tense game the whole way through, the final outcome was reversed, too. After the first half of play, the score was 1-0 Brazil, on the strength of a free kick goal by superstar striker Neymar. He gave the fans a little show afterwards, too ― he flashed the iconic victory pose of Olympic legend Usain Bolt, who was in attendance to watch the match.
By the time halftime had rolled around in the World Cup semifinal between these two teams, the Germans were already on top by a virtually prohibitive amount, leading Brazil by 5-0. But with a tighter margin this time around, it only took one sure-footed boot to tie things up ― Germany's Max Meyer scored the equalizer early in the second half, evening the score at 1-1, setting things up for a dramatic finish.
Despite a flurry of action in the final two minutes, the game went into extra time, 30 more minutes of tense back-and-forth, with both sides still unable to pierce each other's defenses. A second period of extra time followed, 15 more minutes, but still, no change in the score, and no let-up in the tension. The game ultimately boiled down to that most stressful, climactic moment, that delights some fans and disgusts others ― the penalty kicks. And it was there that Brazil seized the moment, with the goalkeeper Weverton making a decision stop on one of Germany's five kicks. Brazil scored all five, and in doing so, claimed Olympic gold.
For Brazilian fans who had their hearts broken and their team brutally humbled on the international stage during that fateful World Cup semifinal, this moment couldn't be any sweeter ― this is Brazil's first-ever gold medal in soccer. Simply put, in the country that exalts the sport as much as any in the world, a dream has just come true.