Dani Alves says winning Olympic gold is his greatest achievement in football after Brazil overcame Spain to reign at the Games once again.

Brazil secured back-to-back golds on Saturday, following on from their Rio 2016 triumph with a 2-1 victory after extra time.

Mikel Oyarzabal levelled to bring Spain back into the game after Matheus Cunha's opener but Malcolm came off the bench to capture Olympic glory.

Alves, a three-time Champions League winner who also has six LaLiga titles on his resume, proclaimed Tokyo to be his greatest success in football.

"To be sincere, yes," the 38-year-old responded when asked if this was his greatest prize. "Because the others are every year, and I have competed time and time again, but with this medal, this is my last chance. I won’t make it to Paris.

"This means a lot for me. Everybody trusted in me, and I knew this would be a once-only opportunity, to be able to enjoy this dream. It’s not every day that you become an Olympic athlete, and even less at the age of 38.

"And so I came here like everybody else, as a virgin, to this competition. I came with the boys to live the dream with them. And we have managed it, after a lot of effort and sacrifice, and we are taking the biggest prize back home, back to our people."

Captain Alves and his team-mates were reduced to tears at the full-time whistle as Brazil came out on top in a record-breaking fifth final appearance.

The last trophy missing from his illustrious collection of honours is the World Cup, so could he keep on going for his country?

"I’m a dreamer, a small dreamer, and more than a dreamer, somebody who executes their dreams," he said in response to questions about Qatar 2022.

"The most important thing is to fight, and that’s what I know what to do. I have the drive of a 23-year-old.

"I still want to do big things in football, and have respect for the profession, because when you have respect for your profession, it brings you great things, and which is what I'm living."

Malcom came off the bench to claim gold for Brazil, who beat Spain 2-1 after extra time to defend their Olympic crown.

Mikel Oyarzabal's stunning effort cancelled out Matheus Cunha's opener to force extra time at the International Stadium Yokohama.

There was plenty of drama before normal time was up – Richarlison blazing a penalty over just prior to Cunha's opener before the Everton forward hit the crossbar in the second half, with Oscar Gil and Bryan Gil also hitting the woodwork at the other end.

Yet it was substitute Malcom who ultimately proved decisive, the Zenit winger getting the better of Jesus Vallejo to prod home beyond Unai Simon and seal back-to-back gold medals for Brazil.

Diego Carlos had to clear off the line to prevent an embarrassing own goal in the 16th minute, before Richarlison sliced into the side netting from a tight angle.

The tournament's leading scorer Richarlison should have added to his tally in the 38th minute, after Spain goalkeeper Simon was adjudged to have fouled Cunha on a VAR check, but he lashed his spot-kick well over.

Brazil swiftly recovered, though – Dani Alves doing brilliantly to keep a move alive, with Cunha bringing down the looping ball and arrowing a finish into the bottom-right corner.

Simon redeemed himself with a fine save from Richarlison after the break, parrying the forward's effort onto the underside of the crossbar, and Oyarzabal's wonderful 61st-minute strike subsequently restored parity. 

The woodwork came to Brazil's salvation late on in normal time, Gil's right-wing centre clipping off the bar before Bryan's thunderous effort rattled off the frame of the goal.

Brazil made their fortune count in the 18th minute of extra time, Malcom's turn of pace proving too much for Vallejo, who could only watch on as the former Barcelona man secured their second Olympic gold.

Alves and Co. were in tears at full-time, collapsing on the pitch as Brazil became the fourth team to win successive gold medals in the men's football event, in what was a record-setting fifth final.

Contesting their third Olympic final, Spain – champions in 1992 – had to settle for silver, the medal they won back in 2000.

Brazil will defend their men's Olympic football title in the final thanks to a classy display of penalty-taking in a 4-1 shoot-out defeat of Mexico following a 0-0 draw after extra time.

The 2016 champions were pushed all the way by Jaime Lozano's side in Kashima but ultimately got the job done on penalties, successfully converting all four of their attempts to reach the final where they will face either Spain or Japan.

Guilherme Arana spurned the best chance of the first half in the 13th minute when he was denied by Guillermo Ochoa with just the goalkeeper in his way.

An even better opportunity looked set to fall Brazil's way soon after as Douglas Luiz was sent tumbling in the box, but the initial penalty award was overturned following a VAR review, with the Aston Villa midfield shown to have exaggerated contact with Jose Esquivel.

The second half was far tetchier, however, with opportunities a rare commodity at either end. The best Brazil could muster until the latter stages was a feeble Antony effort that caused Ochoa no concerns.

Ochoa was beaten in the 82nd minute but the post came to his rescue, with Richarlison's header coming off the inside of the upright but refusing to cross the line.

That saw the match go to extra time and rarely did either side look likely to make the breakthrough, with penalties long appearing a formality.

Eduardo Aguirre missed Mexico's first kick in the shoot-out after Dani Alves had converted, giving El Tri an uphill battle right from the start, and Johan Vasquez did no better with their second as he smashed against the post.

Charly Rodriguez at least got Mexico on the board, but Reinier followed the example set by Gabriel Martinelli and Bruno Guimaraes before him to slot home the decisive kick.

Dani Alves has revealed he has nerves and "butterflies" as he prepares to finally make his Olympics debut at the age of 38.

Sao Paulo defender Alves has 118 caps and four trophies for the senior Brazil team but has never previously played at the Games.

He is one of the over-age players for the Selecao in Tokyo and it is an opportunity he is relishing and even apprehensive about despite his illustrious career at club and international level.

Brazil are among the favourites to win the men's competition along with Spain and France.

They open their campaign against Germany in Group D on Thursday.

"As it is my first time, the feeling is even more special," said Alves, who will captain the team.

"Despite the fact I have great experiences in the past, as it's my first time here I feel butterflies on my stomach and I hope to live up to the expectations of the competition and of our national team.

"I can say my experience will be similar to those that are also coming here for the first time.

"Being here is really a special feeling. As we say, third time lucky. I tried twice, I could not and the third time I managed. So here I am.

"I would like to thank you also for the respect, for the opportunity to be here. Those of you that know me know that I have a young spirit."

Brazil beat Germany on penalties in the final of the Rio Olympics five years ago to clinch the gold medal on home soil.

Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia are the other teams in a competitive pool.

"Indeed, it is a classic [fixture]," coach Andre Jardine said of the opener against Germany. "It has had a wonderful track record and it is an honour to be part of history.

"Both teams have mutual respect for each other and I expect that it will be a difficult game. It will focus on the detail, on the strategy and also on the concentration.

"I hope that we enjoy and that we are able to write one more page on the history and I hope this page is the Brazilian one."

The men's side will hope to emulate the women's team, who got their Olympics campaign off to an impressive start with a 5-0 win over China.

When we look ahead to the Olympics, we usually think about track & field sports, swimming, cycling, maybe even wrestling and boxing.

Given it dominates so much of the sporting agenda for the rest of the year, football may not be among those sports we initially associate with the Olympics, but it has offered numerous stars the opportunity to show their talents to a global audience and to potentially take home a coveted medal.

Of course, the Olympic football tournament is geared more towards lesser-established players, given the age-restriction rules in place.

While teams are usually allowed no more than three players over the age of 23, that age limit has been increased to 24 so not to penalise those around the cut-off who may well have missed out as a result of the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi may be missing, but there are still plenty of familiar faces. Barcelona's Pedri will be involved after starring for Spain at Euro 2020; Brazil great Dani Alves is joined by Arsenal and Everton forwards Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison; and dynamic Milan midfielder Franck Kessie will be the Ivory Coast's go-to man.

But there are plenty of other relatively unheralded talents ready to make you sit up and take note. Below, Stats Perform takes a look at 10 of them.

Facundo Medina, 22, centre-back – Argentina

It's fair to say Lens defender Medina has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence. The French side brought him in from Club Atletico Talleres just last July and he's already being mentioned as a potential target for clubs like Manchester United.

While he may not be the most physically imposing central defender, he's a good technician, which is demonstrated by his ease on the ball – only three Ligue 1 centre-backs (more than 1,000 minutes played) embarked on more ball carries per 90 minutes (20) than Medina, while his average of 56 successful passes per game was more than any of his team-mates.

Bryan Gil, 20, winger – Spain

La Roja's squad is packed with familiar names – as many as six were at Euro 2020, and that doesn't include the likes of Marco Asensio, Carlos Soler and Dani Ceballos. But of the players with less global recognition, old-fashioned left-winger Bryan is arguably the most exciting.

He just completed a very encouraging loan spell away from Sevilla with Eibar, where his direct and brave style of play was frequently on display, with only Lionel Messi, Javi Galan and Yannick Carrasco attempting more dribbles than him (132). In January he became only the second player born this century to score a LaLiga brace, and he won his first senior Spain caps this year.

 

Diego Lainez, 21, winger – Mexico

It feels like Lainez has been tipped for a big future for a long time now – after all, he first burst on to the scene with Club America four years ago. Two-and-a-half years into his time in LaLiga with Real Betis, he's yet to really establish himself with only 13 of his 48 league appearances coming as a starter. He's still not scored a goal.

But there's no doubting he's a talent. In 2020-21, he attempted a dribble every 17 minutes, which was a record among Betis players and ahead of even Nabil Fekir (21 mins). Lainez is an entertainer and clearly gifted, but perhaps lacking consistency in his end product. Who knows, as one of the more talented players in the Mexico squad, being seen as a go-to player may aid his quest for maturity.

Teji Savanier, 29, central midfielder – France

Savanier is the odd one out in this list, given he's the only one who actually counts towards an over-age quota, though it could be argued that it's to players like him that playing at the Olympics may matter the most. Savanier's never even played for France's youth teams, let alone the senior side, and he only made his top-flight bow as recently as 2018, but he's one of those central midfielders that's a joy to watch with his wonderful ability on the ball.

He has completed 58.4 per cent of his 279 dribbles in Ligue 1 since July 2018, which is bettered by only three players (more than 150 attempts) in the same period. For greater context, Neymar's completion rate in that time is 52.5 per cent. Savanier should also provide France with a threat at set-pieces, as only Benjamin Bourigeaud created more chances (40) from such situations than the Montpellier star (37) in 2020-21.

 

Thiago Almada, 20, attacking midfielder – Argentina

La Albiceleste's squad boasts numerous talented young attacking players – Ezequiel Barco, Pedro de la Vega, Ezequiel Ponce, but Almada's arguably rated highest of the lot.

A diminutive attacking midfielder from Carlos Tevez's old neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Fuerte Apache, Almada is skilful, explosive and creative. Among players born this century, Almada boasts the best chances created per game frequency (two) in the Copa Libertadores (at least two games played) this season, as well as being the youngest player to have netted at least twice in the competition in 2021.

Claudinho, 24, forward – Brazil

All roads point to Europe for Claudinho, who looks poised to be the first major export of Red Bull Bragantino, the energy drink giant's Brazilian club. While no move has been confirmed yet, it seems only a matter of time before RB Leipzig look to bring him over to Germany.

 

After all, he was the joint-top scorer in the 2020 Brasileirao (18 goals), with his finishing abilities highlighted by the fact a league-high seven of those were scored from outside the box. Claudinho also created 25 more chances than anyone else in the division, and scooped both the Young Player of the Year and MVP awards.

 

Nathanael Mbuku, 19, winger – France

He may not necessarily be a starter for Les Bleus, given they've plenty of attacking talent in the squad, but at the very least left-winger Mbuku could be an interesting option from the bench. Reims are reported to already value him at €15million, and he has previous when it comes to excelling in national team colours – he netted five goals in six games as France finished third at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.

Mbuku enjoyed a smattering of Ligue 1 appearances that season, though it was in 2020-21 that he truly established himself, making 28 starts – that was tied with Eduardo Camavinga for the most by a player born in 2002 or after. He caught the eye with his ability to beat a man, completing a highly respectable 58.1 per cent of his 74 dribbles last term, a completion rate bettered by only 10 players who attempted at least 70.

Felix Uduokhai, 23, centre-back – Germany

Wolfsburg plucked Uduokhai from 1860 Munich in 2017 with much expected of him. He fell well out of favour in his second season before moving on loan to Augsburg, who triggered their purchase option on him last year. Since moving to Bavaria, he's hardly looked back.

He earned his first senior call-up to the Germany team in November and now there is chatter that some of the Bundesliga's biggest clubs are circling for him again. Whoever gets Uduokhai will land an imposing centre-back whose 102 aerial wins was the fourth-highest in the league last term, while only Amos Pieper (160) bettered his 157 clearances.

 

Brenno, 22, goalkeeper – Brazil

For years, goalkeeper was considered the only position where Brazil struggled to develop world-class players, though Alisson and Ederson have firmly disproved that notion and Brenno could be another to keep an eye on.

In the 2021 Brasileirao, Brenno is averaging the fourth-most amount of saves per 90 minutes (3.5) among those to have played at least four times, and is reportedly interesting Portuguese clubs. A solid showing in Japan might see a potential transfer sped up.

Amad Diallo, 19, winger – Ivory Coast

Manchester United fans will be eager to get a good look at Amad during the Olympics, given they only got glimpses of him in 2020-21 after joining from Atalanta. Amid those eight appearances, he certainly showed flashes of his exciting ability and silky footwork, but they will hope to see some performances of a little more substance.

As much as anything, it could be an opportunity for Amad to earn himself a loan move or prove to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he's worth keeping around. Jadon Sancho's arrival will likely further impact his exposure to first-team football, but impressing in Japan might encourage his manager to use him as a regular back up to the England international, with Mason Greenwood moved into a central position.

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