Long Reads

What’s Happened to the Brazilian Olympic Football Team of 2016

Brazil men's football team for 2016 Olympics
Image: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

In 2016 Brazil were the host nation of the Olympic games for that reason, there was an extraordinary amount of pressure on Brazil to win the competition. Rewind two years before the Olympics, Brazil as hosts of the World Cup suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Germans in the semi-final.

The defeat by the Germans, saw many Brazilians turn their back on the national team and tasked with bringing back hope was the 2016 Brazilian Olympic U23 squad, and they managed to do just that.

After two weeks of intense football, the final coincidently saw Brazil taking on Germany. This time around it was a much better evening for the Brazilians as they triumphed with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory. Showing their fans that there’s still hope for the National team in the future.

Now four years on we take a look at the starting XI during the final and how their careers have panned out.

Weverton

Weverton was one of the three players selected over the age of 23 – helping bring experience and a calm head to the dressing room. During the penalty shootout, his save proved decisive in helping Brazil claim the gold medal.

Now aged 32, Weverton, has enjoyed his fair share of success since the Olympics.

After playing 206 times for Athletico Paranaense over a five year period he joined Palmeiras where he is still playing today.

In his first season at the club under manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, Weverton helped Palmeiras claim their 10th League title – eight points clear of their nearest challengers Flamengo.

His impressive performances during the Olympics were recognised by National team coach Tite, who selected him in 2017 for World Cup Qualifiers – eventually playing him in two friendly matches against Argentina and Colombia.

Zeca 

At the time of the Olympics, Zeca was still establishing himself in the Santos first team, and despite playing only one game before the final, Zeca earned his place in the all-important clash with the Germans.

After the tournament, the confidence gained from winning the competition allowed him to fully cement his place in the Santos starting eleven. Unfortunately, his time at Santos was marred towards the end due to alleged missed payments and he eventually moved to Internacional in 2018.

At Internacional, he’s featured 56 times so far including helping the club finish 3rd in their first season back in Brazil’s top flight.

At the beginning of this season, he was sent out on loan to ambitious Northeastern club Bahia where he will be hoping to rebuild his career again once football returns.

Douglas Santos 

Just months before Douglas Santos got the call up to the Olympic squad, he represented the full Senior team in a 4-0 victory over Panama. Following impressive performances for Atlético Mineiro which helped him earn a place in the 2015 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Team of the Year, because of this, big things were expected for him at the Olympics and he certainly proved his worth.

His performances sparked interest from several European clubs and just 11 days after the tournament he signed for Hamburger SV for £5.85 million.

He went on to make 88 appearances in all competitions for the German club netting three times.

After being relegated to Bundesliga 2 in the 2017/2018 season, Santos stayed on for another year trying to help the club bounce back immediately. However, things did not pan out the way he hoped… after failing to achieve promotion he moved to Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg for £10.8 million.

So far he has featured in all 22 league games for Zenit in the 2019/2020 as they sit top of the Russain league – nine points clear of their closest rivals.

Santos will be hoping that he can add a league title to his collection come the end of the season.

Rodrigo Caio

Rodrigo Caio during the Olympics played six times and was also another player who had represented Brazil at senior level prior.

Following the competition, he’s gone on to play for his country a further three times – most recently in May 2017.

At club level, after racking up 268 appearances for his boyhood team, Sao Paulo, Caio joined Flamengo for a hefty fee of £6.3 million in 2019.  The move to Flamengo was an instant hit.

Last season Caio played a part in Flamengo enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in their history by winning the Brazilian league title and Copa Libertadores. His performances throughout the season earned him a place in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Team of the Year.

Caio played in all but one game of the Copa Libertadores campaign as they claimed the title with a 2-1 victory over River Plate in Peru.

Despite hardly any football played in 2020, Caio has already earned some silverware by winning the Recopa Sudamericana and Brazilian Supercup.

Still only 26 there’s still plenty of time for Caio to add to his growing medal collection.

Marquinhos

Marquinhos was a key figure to the backline during the Olympics which was expected as despite being only 22 he had a fair amount of international experience to his name having already played for the Seleção ten times – making his debut at just 19.

After claiming the Olympic title his career has grown from strength to strength playing for the star-studded PSG.

Since 2016 he has accumulated 11 trophies and has built a formidable partnership with fellow Brazilian, Thiago Silva. Marquinhos to date has represented the Parisian club 179 times and The Brazil National Team 47 times.

Marquinhos last summer played every game during Brazil’s triumph in the Copa America, helping Brazil claim their first title in the competition since 2007.

There is one title which is still eluding him, The Champions League which I’m sure he will be keen to add to his collection and being only 26 there’s still plenty of time for him to reach his goal.

Walace

Born from the city of Salvador Walace, before the Olympics represented Brazil during the 2016 Copa America, playing once in a 7-1 demolition of Haiti. He earned his place in the side after Luiz Gustavo left for personal reasons.

Luck was on Walace’s side during the Olympics as Shakhtar Donetsk refused to let Fred leave for the tournament seeing Walace get the nod instead.

He went on to play five games in the tournament and following he continued to establish himself at Gremio, playing a total of 77 times.

In 2017 he helped the Porto Alegre club lift the Copa Do Brasil before moving to Europe to join German club Hamburger SV – teaming up with fellow Olympian, Douglas Santos.

His career at Hamburg peaked early scoring 11 days after signing. Things quickly went downhill from there… 18 months later Hamburg suffered a shock relegation with Walace featuring 18 times throughout the torrid season. Despite the tough times at club level, he was still brought in to national team by Tite, more recently featuring in late 2018.

After the relegation, Walace called it quits on his Hamburg career moving to fellow German club Hannover 96 where he spent only one season playing 28 times suffering a second straight relegation – sparking a move to Udinese.

So far he’s only represented Udinese seven times in his debut season as they sit just three points above the relegation zone. He will be desperately hoping that he can avoid the dreaded drop for the third season in a row.

Renato Augusto

The 2015 Brazilian League footballer of the year in 2015 carried that form into the Olympics as another one of the players aged over 23 and one who already had international experience.

He played in each of Brazil’s six games at the Olympics and even took the pressure first penalty of the final against Germany, setting the example by converting his penalty.

Following the Olympics, Augusto managed to cement his place in Brazils starting eleven and he’s done a fairly decent job at that even captaining in a 5-0 win against Bolivia in a World Cup Qualifier.

In the 2018 World Cup, he made three substitute appearances, in the process, he achieved a dream of every Brazilian by scoring a goal in the World Cup, unfortunately, for Augusto, he was on the losing side in the Quater finals against Belgium. In total Augusto has gone on to rack up 32 caps for his country scoring six times.

Prior to the Olympics, Augusto moved to Beijing Guoan where he still continues to play his football today. To date, he’s played 129 times for the Chinese club scoring 36 goals in all competitions. In 2018 he picked up his first trophy at the club helping Beijing Guoan claim their fourth Chinese Cup.

Neymar

Well as you’d expect Neymar was Brazil’s captain and poster boy during the Olympics as he was for the World Cup in 2014, Confederations cup in 2013, and the 2012 Olympics in London.

In London, Neymar and Brazil suffered a shock final defeat to Mexico. This time around he was eager to make sure that they tasted success. Neymar missed out on the Copa America squad in 2016 to compete at the Olympics.

Neymar, after a slow start, came to life during the knockout stages of the tournament scoring four times and providing three assists. More importantly, he scored the opening goal of the final, and the winning penalty,

Following the games, Neymar helped Barcelona lift the Copa del Rey in 2017 and in the Champions League that year, Neymar retained his status as the top assist provider but unfortunately, Barcelona exited at the Quater Final stage.

On a personal level in 2017, Neymar was awarded the Samba Gold for a second time – this is given to the best performing Brazilian in Europe. In the same year, Neymar shocked everyone, deciding to join French outfit PSG for a world-record fee of £220 million.

His time at the Parisian club has been a mixture of highs and lows mainly due to injury which has led him to miss crucial matches in the Champions League Knockouts which PSG have not been able to perform without their flamboyant star man. however, in the current European campaign PSG have advanced to the Quater Final stage of the competition and will be hoping they can claim their first-ever title.

In domestic football, it’s a very different story as since signing Neymar, PSG have a won a total of seven trophies including three straight league titles and his goal-scoring record is phenomenal scoring 69 times in just 80 matches.

In international football, Neymar was unfortunately injured during the Copa America victory in 2019 but with 61 goals in 101 appearances, he’s still highly regarded amongst; teammates, staff and the Brazilian Fans.

Luan

Luan after missing out on the Copa America squad in 2016, got the chance to showcase his ability at the Olympic Games instead and he did just that.

Then aged 23 he scored three times and provided three assists playing in all six matches.

His career after the Olympics immediately took off. Just under four months later he helped his club side Gremio lift the Copa Do Brasil with a 4-2 aggregate victory over Atletico Mineiro.

2017 was the greatest year to date of Luan’s career. His performances in the league saw him selected in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Team of the Year as Gremio finished fourth.

It was in the Copa Libertadores where Luan made a real name for himself helping Gremio lift their third title. Throughout the tournament, Luan racked up eight goals and was selected as The Copa Libertadores player of the year which subsequently led to him claiming the South American Player of the year award as well.

This saw him selected for the full senior Brazil squad where he made two appearances.

Since 2017 Luan has gone off the boil following injuries and he ended a five-year spell at Gremio, opting to join Corinthians where he will be hoping he can keep injury-free and rediscover his 2017 form.

Gabriel Jesus

Prior to the games, it was announced Gabriel Jesus would join English side Manchester City in January for a fee of around £27 million.

Jesus enjoyed a very successful Olympics scoring three times playing in every game – aged just 19 and similar to Luan, Jesus immediately earned further success in the months following.

Following the Olympics, Jesus joined up with Senior Brazil side where he has been ever since, which of course means he was a part of the 2019 Copa America winning squad – during the tournament he scored twice, including in the final against Peru.

At club level with his time at Palmeiras limited he had his sights set on helping the club win their first league title since 1994 and he did just that by earning the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Best Player in 2016 spearheading his boyhood’s clubs march to the title.

In the Premier League in 2016/2017, Jesus wasted no time in settling in, as he impressed scoring seven times in his first 11 games.

The 2017/2018 season was Jesus first full season in English football and he was part of the Manchester City side who won the title with a record points total of 100 and Jesus’s late winner at St Mary’s on the final day of the season ensured the side are known as the Centurions. Throughout the same campaign, Jesus found the net on 17 occasions as well as adding the League Cup to his collection.

A year later Jesus bettered his previous season tally scoring 21 times in all competitions as City became the first English side to win the Premier League, Fa Cup, League Cup, and Community Shield. (known as the Domestic Quadruple).

His current talent at City has seen him play 138 times scoring 63 times – Not bad for someone who is only 23 years old with plenty more left to give!

Gabriel Barbosa

Last and by no means least is Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa Gabigol is a nickname given to him due to his goalscoring ability at youth level. Playing out wide during the Olympics, Gabigol played every game scoring two goals throughout the tournament (a brace against Denmark).

Immediately after the tournament, Gabigol joined up with Inter Milian and his late arrival saw him miss pre-season which instigated a disappointing spell only playing a total on ten matches scoring one goal.

This saw him loaned to Benfica where he once again struggled to adapt to his surroundings and by January 2018 he was back playing in Brazil – joining Santos for their 2018 campaign.

It was a move which helped get his career back on track in 53 appearances throughout the season he scored 27 times.18 of those 27 came in the league, and he was awarded the top goalscorer throughout the campaign.

If you thought his 2018 stats were impressive then you’ll be pleased to know in 2019 he eclipsed them – this time for Rio De Janerio based club, Flamengo.

Gabigol played a crucial part in Flamengo winning three trophies claiming the State Championship, Serie A, and the Copa Libertadores. In 2019 in 59 games he scored a total of 43 goals – once again retaining the top scorer trophy in Brazil an in the Copa Libertadores.

He also collected several individual awards including the South American Footballer of the Year.

Flamengo made Gabigol a permanent signing in January 2020 and in ten matches he already has eleven goals this year!

In terms of Senior football for Gabigol after playing four times scoring twice in 2016, his move to Europe jeopardised his International career and he didn’t feature for Brazil again until 2019. His form at Flamengo has seen him renovate his career and before the break due to  COVID, he was part of the squad for the World Cup Qualifiers in March.