Olympics Football Matchday One: Premier League Stars
Solomon Kalou of Chelsea celebrates the Ivory Coast’s goal with a teammate / AP PhotoMatchday one is in the books for 2008 Men’s Olympic Football tournament with Argentina, Brazil, the United States and Italy all recording victories. However some performances were more impressive than others: Brazil for example were outplayed badly by Belgium for much of the match while Argentina’s Olympic team resembled its World Cup team not only beating a game Ivory Coast side late in the match (as they had done in the 2006 World Cup) but also in the intensity and fighting spirit the Argentines brought. Brazil under Dunga continued their lethargic ways from World Cup qualifying and one has to wonder if Dunga doesn’t win this title if his time is up in charge of Brazil.Here were the top performers from the EPL:Javier Mascherano, Liverpool: Played 90 minutes for Argentina in a 2-1 win over the Ivory Coast. Mascherano teams with Juan Roman Riquelme to form the most formidable central midfield combination not only in the Olympics but perhaps on the planet.Solomon Kalou, Chelsea: Kalou missed just high and wide on a free kick that would have given the Ivory Coast a lead late in the match.Ryan Babel, Liverpool: Babel surprisingly was ineffective and selfish on the ball in Holland’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria.Victor Anichebe, Everton: Had a good performance testing the Dutch defense repeatedly in Nigeria’s unfortunate draw with Holland.Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: Kept a clean sheet in the United States’ 1-0 win over Japan. Guzan can thank his outstanding back four for the clean sheet because his performance was underwhelming for a keeper considered of a Premier League or even an MLS standard.Anderson, Manchester United: Brazil scored it’s lone goal of the match after Anderson was subbed out and that is appropriate. He did very little to distinguish himself in this match besides several bad giveaways.Ryan Nelson, Blackburn: The former DC United skipper captained his side to a 1-1 draw with China. A nice game for Nelson but two points lost late in the match when China equalized may doom the Kiwis chances to advance beyond the group stage.Frank Songo’o Pompey: Came on in the 74th minute and paid immediate dividends as Cameroon equalized with South Korea partly due to his efforts in stabalizing the midfield.