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Pedri Continues His Winning Ways In Spains Olympic Debut With Game 66 Of His Season

We got our first taste of Pedri’s potential in Tokyo against Egypt when he tripped through a challenge and swept inside to tee up Dani Ceballos, who smashed a long-range effort off the crossbar.
Pedri was back on the pitch at the Olympics for his 66th game in 322 days, only 16 days after Spain’s departure from Euro 2020, where he was voted young player of the tournament.
The fact that the Spanish football federation ignored Barcelona’s and Ronald Koeman’s protests over the inclusion of their youthful talent in Luis de la Fuentes’ Japan squad – in stark contrast to the omission of Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, who was not released by Liverpool – indicated the country’s purpose heading into the Games.
In the 1992 Barcelona Games, Spain won gold by defeating Poland 3-2 in the final.
The squad won silver in Sydney 2000 after losing on penalties to Cameroon, but they have not appeared in a final since.
Pedri is one of six Spaniards in Tokyo for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Unai Simon of Athletic Bilbao started every game, and Mikel Oyarzabal of Real Sociedad scored the game-winning goal in Spain’s exciting 5-3 victory over Croatia.
Eric Garcia, a Pedris teammate, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, and RB Leipzig attacker Dani Olmo were also in the lineup.
Barcelona may have pleaded for Pedri’s relaxation, but they, too, had cashed in on his almost unquenchable need to play, fielding him 52 times in the 2020-21 season.
In the Sapporo Dome on Thursday, the Tenerife-born star was the focus of Egyptian attention, with Akram Tawfik and Emam Ashour keeping a close eye on him, restricting his time on the ball in the first half and forcing him to play higher in the second.
If the 3,526 minutes he played for Barcelona and 14 games for Spain, including three back-to-back extra-time periods at the Euros, were exhausting, it didnt show.
When Pedris did grab away from his markers, his movement and vision were as crisp as ever, and he provided the impetus for Spain’s two half-chances in the frustrating scoreless draw on the northernmost Japanese island.
Another member of Spain’s Euro 2020 squad competing at the Olympics is Dani Olmo, who is battling Ahmed Fotouh.
With Australia and Argentina up next, Spain will be upset not to have started with three points. Photograph: Masashi Hara/Getty Images
Unlike the women’s event, where three groups rather than four mean two third-place finishers advance, only the top two teams from each section advance to the knockout phase in the men’s tournament.
With Spain already having pulled Oscar Mingueza with what appeared to be a thigh injury, the sight of Ceballos, the captain, bouncing around the perimeter, boot off, at the end of the first half, will have darkened the atmosphere even more.
Prior to his ankle injury, Ceballos and Pedri’s link-up play had been a highlight.
Pedri’s half-volley on the edge of the box was stopped by Egypt’s captain, Ahmed Hegazi, in added time, denying him the chance to steal a win and the headlines.
Join up for our Tokyo 2020 briefing for all the latest news, analysis, and previews for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There’s little doubt the midfielder can handle the pressure.
What remains to be seen is whether his body can not only survive another grueling campaign undamaged, but also deliver at the level to which we have grown used.
There is pressure on Spain to justify his participation, and there is pressure on Pedri and the team moving into the following two games after the draw in Sapporo.

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