Could Mexico win Olympic gold? 

August, 9, 2012

Even with the task of medaling at the Olympics accomplished, Mexican players have assured fans they are now fully focused on winning a gold medal against Brazil. There will certainly be a struggle to fight against complacency. Yet the Mexican Olympic team has rarely been satisfied with the minimum.

When the team qualified for the Olympics in Kansas City in the CONCACAF tournament after a semifinal win against Canada, it fought through a difficult final game to win in extra time against Honduras even though it was practically a meaningless title. When an impressive performance in the Toulon tournament in France had already given the team confidence boost, the U-23s won the entire tournament.

Hardly anyone believed Mexico could get past a difficult half of the Olympic bracket. But a funny thing happened on the way to the final game. Several of Mexico's most difficult foes stumbled and were eliminated from the tournament even prior to the knockout stage. Suddenly, Mexico became a formidable foe in a group that now lacked Spain and Uruguay.

But winning gold will be this group's biggest task to date, though not an impossible one. Here are five factors that will come into play Saturday:

How will Mexico replace Gio?

Losing Giovani Dos Santos may be the biggest factor of the match. To recap, Dos Santos exited Tuesday's semifinal against Japan after halftime because of what was described as a left leg injury. On Thursday, Mexico's worst fears were realized when it announced that Dos Santos would miss Saturday's final with a strain in his left leg. Essentially, Dos Santos will be out a minimum of 15 days, which will also affect his club status.

Mexico will be forced to play without its most effective offensive weapon of the tournament. After a sluggish start to the Olympic campaign -- when he was forced to come off the bench in the first two group games -- Dos Santos leads Mexico with three goals and two assists, the same stat line as the much-heralded Neymar, even though Neymar has played 118 more minutes.