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Brazil will hope to avoid becoming the biggest victim yet of Honduras’ surprise run when the teams face off in the semifinals of the men’s soccer competition at the famed Maracana on Wednesday. After a slow and difficult start to event, when coming under huge pressure from its home supporters, Brazil has found its gear.
Following a 4-0 triumph over Denmark, captain and star man Neymar delivered big in the quarterfinals. Despite, not for the first time, being subjected to a repeated battering by a Colombia team, the Barcelona forward struck a fine first-half free-kick to grab his first goal of the tournament. He then helped set up Luan to make the result safe late on.With that victory, Neymar, more than most, will hope to have in part vanquished the ghosts of the last time Brazil hosted a major tournament on home soil. At the 2014 World Cup, Colombia was again the quarterfinal opponent and it was a similarly hot-tempered affair in which Neymar bore the brunt of the opposition’s aggression.
While Brazil again got the win that day, Neymar received a knee to the back which would break a bone and end his World Cup. Without him, Brazil went down to its most humiliating defeat in history, losing 7-1 to Germany in the semifinals.Drawn in a group with Argentina and Portugal, few gave Honduras a chance of matching its performance from four years ago when reaching the quarterfinals. But in the final round of games Honduras secured a 1-1 draw with Argentina to eliminate the 2004 and 2008 gold medalists. In the quarterfinals, it was again a significant underdog against a South Korea team that had impressed in the group stage. But Honduras, thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Luis Lopez, prevented Korea from turning its statistical dominance into goals, before Alberth Elis took advantage of a rare sight of goal in clinical fashion.
Kickoff Time: 12 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Olympics.com