Brazil’s Olympic football men’s team captain Dani Alves has played on the game’s biggest stages but says he is still feeling pre-tournament ‘butterflies’ ahead of Thursday’s opener against Germany.
The 38-year-old has made 118 appearances for the full Brazil national team, featuring in two World Cups and at club level, he won three Champions League titles with Barcelona but is set for his debut in the Games as an over-age player for the defending gold medallists.
The full-back showed he is ready to enjoy the occasion by taking to the intercom during the team’s flight to Japan to read the safety instructions while wearing a flight attendant neck scarf.
“Those that know me, know I have a youthful spirit, and as it is my first time I will have the same sort of experience as the young lads. Even though I have enjoyed some big moments in my career, given this is my first time at the Olympics I feel some butterflies in my stomach,” he told a news conference.
“Being here is really a special feeling. I am thankful for the opportunity. I hope I can live up to the expectations of the competition and also of our national team,” he added.
Brazil won the tournament on home soil in 2016 beating Germany in the final and the pair have been drawn in Group D along with Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.
Germany’s Olympic preparation match against Honduras on Saturday was cut short by five minutes after defender Jordan Torunarigha was allegedly racially abused but coach Stefan Kuntz said there would not be any gesture or protest made before the Brazil game.
“No, we decided yesterday as a team that as far as we are concerned that matter is concluded and Jordan said that he accepted that as well, so we are going to conclude that case there,” he said.
The German team visited the athlete’s village on Tuesday where they were able to meet some of the country’s other competitors.
“It was really great to feel part of the whole German team, something special to see where 10,000 athletes will be and to feel that whole Olympic feeling and spirit, something I haven’t experienced before,” said Kuntz.