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Olympic Preview: Group C, Day 3








Wednesday 13 August 2008 (all times Beijing)
19:45 China PR - Brazil
19:45 New Zealand - Belgium

China - Brazil

China face the impossible as the home team line up against Brasil in Qinhuangdao. Having picked up just one point so far - and that was against unfancied New Zealand - they must pick up a win over the mighty South Americans while hoping that Belgium stumble against the All-Whites.

It's a tall order, and on past showings it seems to be beyond the Yin Tiesheng-led side. That's not to say that it's all bad for China: even when they were down to nine men against the Belgians they were hardly outclassed, and there is a determined streak to their play that could see them past a Brazil side whose foot may just be easing off the gas pedal.

Still, if Brazil play as they did against New Zealand, China have little chance. The gulf in class was more than evident as the Seleção racked up five goals against the southerners, Ronaldinho being at the thick of it.

With first place 90% assured Dunga will probably make changes for this game, but he'll still want a win, if only to alleviate the pressure on himself and his embattled squad.

Players to watch: Ronaldinho looked to be back to his usual, effervescent self against New Zealand: how long he is to take part in this game remains a mystery, but he'll probably be good for a moment of magic. is also likely to get at least a few minutes as he seeks to break his tournament duck. China, labouring with suspensions to Feng Xiaoting and captain Zheng Zhi, will rely on the likes of Shanghai Shenhua's Li Weifeng and Tan Wangsong of Tianjin Teda to keep it tight at the back.

New Zealand - Belgium

A single point is almost certainly enough for Belgium to reach the next round after the Red Devils pulled off a 2-0 win over China in the last fixture.

Moussa Dembélé opened the scoring for the western Europeans but his side were unable to add a second until two Chinese players were sent off: this will be cause for concern for boss Jean-François De Sart, but nonetheless his side are in a fine position.

Sitting two points above the New Zealanders and China, their fate is in their own hands: a draw will surely be sufficient, while a win definitely will be. The fact that their final game is against unfancied NZ - over whom Belgium are hot favourites - means that squad spirit is good.

Interesting enough, it may be a little too good: Vincent Kompany, unable to take part in this fixture, was summoned home by his club side, Hamburger SV, in order to help the Hanseaten with their European and domestic challenges. It seemed as though the young stopper was set to heed the call, but now he's apparently opted to remain with Belgium. A club-versus-country dispute is in the offing...

The Olywhites no doubt relished the experience of playing against the likes of Ronaldinho in the last game, but the scoreline would have been less to their liking. A 5-0 defeat is the last thing they needed, and unless they can recover with a victory here they're heading home.

The young New Zealanders are not leading lights of the global game, but this could work in their favour: the pressure is off now.

Players to watch: Belgium will look to settle down quickly with that early goal, and Moussa Dembélé will look to oblige. The AZ forward faces competition to reach the scoresheet in the form of Kevin Mirallas, who struck late on against China. New Zealand may opt to hit on the break, meaning that Jeremy Brockie's goalscoring touch will be sought once more.

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Olympic Preview: Group C, Day 3 Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:05 PM Rating: 5

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