By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The weekend was gold for Brazilian sports fans, as Brazil’s men’s football (soccer) team and men’s volleyball team were able to pull together and win the top prize in their respective sports, the Olympic gold medal. The two games however, were not for the faint at heart.
On Saturday, Brazil’s men’s football faced Germany at Maracanã stadium, still a little haunted by the 2014 game when Brazil lost 7-1 to the German team during the semi-finals of the World Cup. Although both teams said that in no way Saturday’s match was a rematch, spectators and athletes alike probably could not do away with the comparison.
Brazilians, led by team captain Neymar, played well; but so did the Germans. With the game evenly balanced, both teams found it hard to get into enemy territory to score. Brazil’s break came during the middle of the first half when Neymar was able to score a goal. The euphoria, however, soon disappeared with German’s captain, Maximilian Meyer, tying in the second half, 1-1.
The draw continued through the 30 minutes of overtime and inevitably the game and the Olympic gold came down to the penalties. With four players from each team able to evade the goalie and put the ball in the goal, Brazil’s chance to shine came after Germany’s Nils Petersen failed to score.
It was then up to Neymar, who was injured during the World Cup and unable to compete against the German scoring machine, to make the winning goal and lead Brazil to the first Olympic soccer gold medal ever. “Yesterday we were criticized,” said the Brazilian star, “We have replied with good football.”
Still ecstatic from Saturday’s football gold medal, Brazilians once again glued themselves to the TV and headed over to Maracanazinho, this time for the men’s volleyball final against Italy. And again, the sets were filled with tension and expectations. Although Brazil eventually won the first three of the five possible sets, capturing its first men’s volleyball gold medal in twelve years, the sets were all extremely close, 25-22, 28-26 and 26-24.
Correction: The article has been corrected since it was originally published on August 22nd to clarify the World Cup semi-finals between Brazil and Germany was played at Minerão, Belo Horizonte, not Maracana.