Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Venue(s): Arena Corinthians, SÃ£o Paulo; Arena da AmazÃ´nia, Manaus; Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador; JoÃ£o Havelange Olympic Stadium, Engenho de Dentro, Rio de Janeiro; ManÃ© Garrincha National Stadium, BrasÃlia; MaracanÃ£ Stadium, MaracanÃ£, Rio de Janeiro; MineirÃ£o, Belo Horizonte
Date Started: August 3, 2016
Date Finished: August 19, 2016
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to single-elimination tournament of four teams.
As the reigning Olympic champions, World Cup holders and ranked number one by FIFA, the United States went into the 2016 tournament as very clear favourites. They had an outstanding Olympic record, winning four of the five finals up to 2016, and finishing second in the other, to Norway after sudden-death extra-time in 2000. Seven members of their squad had already won Olympic gold, including goalkeeper [Hope Solo], who was going for a record fourth gold in Rio. USA also had the reigning Word Player of the Year, [Carli Lloyd], in their squad.
Being on home soil, Brazil, the 2015 Pan-Am champions, looked likely to provide stiff opposition to the USA. Their team included the five-times Word Player of the Year [Marta], and 38-year-old midfielder [Formiga], an ever-present since the first Olympic tournament in 1996, thus playing in her sixth Games. The European challenge was expected to come from France, FIFA ranked three, and the talented Germans, twice World Cup winners and three times Olympic bronze medallist, and the number two ranked team by FIFA.
The tournament got off to a great start with [Janine Beckie] of Canada scoring the fastest goal in Olympic history, when she netted after just 20 seconds against Australia on the first day of the tournament. It beat by 10 seconds the goal scored by [Oribe Peralta] of Mexico in the 2012 menâs final against Brazil. Sadly for Beckie, her record stood only two weeks until bettered by six seconds by Brazilâs [Neymar] in the menâs semi-final against Honduras.
The United States qualified as top of their group despite being held by Colombia in their final group game. It was Colombia womenâs first ever point in the Olympics. In the USAâs 1-0 win over France, Hope Solo became the first goalkeeper in the world, male or female, to win 200 caps. Germany also qualified for the knockout stage, but only as the second best team in their group behind Canada. They were held to a surprise 2-2 draw in their second group game by the Australians after coming from two goals down and scoring a late equaliser. Australia had the youngest member of the football tournament (men and women) in their squad - 16 -year-old defender [Ellie Carpenter]. To make matters worse for the Germans, they lost their final group game 2-1 to Canada. Brazil qualified from their group as the only South American nation in the last eight, while Germany were joined by fellow Europeans Sweden and France, and China and Australia made up the quarter-finals.
The first last eight match saw one of the biggest upsets in womenâs Olympic football history as the United States lost to Sweden in the first ever womenâs penalty shoot-out. It was also the United Statesâ first defeat in the Olympics since a 2-0 loss to Norway in a group match in 2008. The US coach who guided them to gold that year, and again in 2012, was [Pia Sundhage], and she was now Swedenâs head coach who masterminded their win over the USA in 2016. After the match, Hope Solo called the Swedes âA bunch of cowardsâ. These remarks earned her a six month suspension from the US team after the Olympics and the termination of her US Soccer Federation contract after 17 years.
Shortly after Swedenâs win in that first ever penalty-shoot out, along came a second when Brazil beat Australia 7-6 on penalties after finishing goalless after 120 minutes. The semi-finals were made up with world number two Germany beating China 1-0 and world number 10 Canada surprising the third ranked FIFA team, France, by the same scoreline.
All four teams in the semis were searching for their first Olympic title and the Brazilian women were hoping to achieve that goal before their male counterparts, albeit by a day, but it was not to be. Just as they did in their win over the USA, Sweden approached the game against Brazil with a defensive attitude and were happy to keep the game goalless for 120 minutes and take the game to penalties. They were all square in the shoot-out when [Andressa]âs spot kick was saved and [Dahlkvist] scored the winning goal for the Europeans. Germany made it an all-European final after beating 2012 bronze medalists Canada 2-0 with goals from [Melane Behringer] and [Sara DÃ¤britz].
Having lost out on the chance to become Brazilâs first Olympic soccer champions, the ladies team was hoping at least for a bronze medal but it was Canada who opened the scoring in the bronze medal match in the 25th minute through [Deanne Rose] who, at 17, was the youngest member of the Canadian squad. They increased their lead on 52 minutes through [Christine Sinclair] and they seemed to have secured the bronze medal, but when [Beatriz] scored for the hosts 11 minutes from time it set up a tense finale. Canada held on for back-to-back bronze medals as they became the first Canadians to win consecutive medals in a Summer Olympics team sport since they won lacrosse gold in both 1904 and 1908.
Both Sweden, ranked six, and Germany, ranked two, were in the womenâs final for the first time and, for Sweden, it was at the sixth time of asking, having appeared in every edition since womenâs football first appeared at Atlanta in 1996. They had never won a medal previously and Germanyâs best finish was third on three occasions. The final was a repeat of the 2004 bronze medal match, which Germany won 1-0.
After a goalless first half at the MaracanÃ£, [Dzsenifer Marozsan] put Germany ahead three minutes into the second half, with a curling finish. Their lead was extended on 62 minutes when [Linda Sembrant] put through her own goal after Marozsan's free-kick hit the post. Five minutes later Sweden pulled a goal back when a cross from [Kosse Asslani] was turned into the goal by [Stina Blackstenius], but one goal was not enough and Germany won 2-1. It was their first ever women's Olympic football gold medal, and the first for the German nation since the GDR men took gold at Montreal in 1976.