Football Kicks off Rio2016 Olympic Games before Opening Ceremony

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Rio 2016 officially gets under way with the opening ceremony on Friday – but did you know football kicks off the action two days earlier?

The first group stages of the women’s tournament begins today with Sweden facing South Africa, while the men’s group stages start on Thursday, when Iraq play Denmark

With 16 men’s and 12 women’s teams, there are 58 matches to get through. There is football being played on 12 days of the tournament, with six rest days.

Of course, some of the stars of the top leagues in Europe are going to be on parade during the Games in Rio2016.

Barcelona forward Neymar will captain a Brazil squad aiming to win its first Olympic gold medal.
The hosts also have Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson in their squad along with Neymar’s Barca team-mate Rafinha and Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos.

Meanwhile, Tottenham forward Son Heung-min will represent South Korea and Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi brings experience for Nigeria.

Five-time women’s world player of the year Marta competes in her fourth Olympics for Brazil, while her 38-year-old team-mate Formiga is going to her sixth Games and is looking to continue her streak of appearing at every women’s Olympic football tournament.

The reigning world and Olympic champions USA have seven gold medal winners in their line-up. Among them is goalkeeper Hope Solo, who could win a record fourth Olympic title at Rio, and current world player of the year Carli Lloyd.

MEN’S GROUPS
Group A: Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Denmark
Group B: Sweden, Colombia, Nigeria, Japan
Group C: Fiji, South Korea, Mexico, Germany
Group D: Honduras, Algeria, Portugal, Argentina

WOMEN’S GROUPS
Group E: Brazil, China, Sweden, South Africa
Group F: Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe, Germany
Group G: USA, New Zealand, France, Columbia