Dani Olmo, Max Kruse, Matheus Cunha, Wataru Endo and Lucas Tousart are just five of the 24 Bundesliga players who will again be on show this summer at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
bundesliga.com takes a closer look at those five gunning for gold in Japan…
Olmo is one of five players in Spain's Olympic squad who also featured in La Furia Roja's run to the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2020, and arguably the most exciting. RB Leipzig's midfield metronome laid on three assists in five games for Luis Enrique's men this summer, and fellow coach and namesake Luis de la Fuente can be optimistic of him maintaining a similar output in Japan.
Watch: The best of Olmo in the Bundesliga
A versatile attacker whose sharp control and game intelligence allows him to operate in a central midfield role for his club but from the left wing or even as a false 9 for his country, Olmo gives Spain plenty of options when they open their tournament against Egypt on 22 July, and despite his 201 career games, he is still only 23, meaning he doesn't even count as one of the permitted three overaged players.
Comfortably overage but maturing like a fine wine is Germany forward Kruse, whose 11 goals and five assists for Union Berlin last season came in at a rate of one every 102 minutes he played, despite his 33 years. Union qualified for Europe for the first time since 2001 last term, and Stefan Kuntz will hope Kruse can help guide Die Mannschaft to a first Olympic gold since East Germany won the title in Montreal in 1976.
The 14-time senior international adds vast Bundesliga experience to a young squad – featuring several players who just won the UEFA European U21 Championship – with his total of 272 appearances in the German top flight for Werder Bremen, St. Pauli, Freiburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg and now Union. And as can often be crucial in tournament football, he has the coolest of heads from the spot, having scored 27 out of 28 penalties at senior level, including a Bundesliga record-equalling 16 in a row.
Despite a call-up in October 2020, Cunha is yet to play for Brazil’s senior team, but he has had a taste of an international tournament at the 2019 Toulon Cup. The then Leipzig player was the top scorer as Brazil won the youth competition, being named in the Best XI alongside Bayer Leverkusen’s Paulinho, who again joins Cunha in the Seleção squad for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. They begin their campaign on 22 July with a mouth-watering clash against Germany.
Watch: All seven Cunha goals in 2020/21
The now Hertha Berlin forward has blossomed since his January 2020 move to the German capital, averaging a goal or assist every 130 minutes across his 39 competitive appearances for the Old Lady. Mostly playing off the central striker, Cunha was the club’s joint-top scorer with seven Bundesliga goals in 2020/21 and also Hertha’s greatest all-round threat with a combined 11 goal contributions. That accounts for over a quarter of their goals during the campaign.
VfB Stuttgart’s Endo is one of the three overage players the hosts have named in their squad for Tokyo. Hailing from Japan’s second city of Yokohama, the 28-year-old already has 28 caps for the senior national team – going to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup – but has been called up by coach Hajime Moriyasu to add steel to the Samurai Blues. He will no doubt feature when Japan open their tournament against South Africa on 22 July.
Endo started every single Bundesliga game last season prior to the final matchday, which he missed due to an accumulation of five yellow cards, on occasions even captaining the side he’d only joined in 2019. The holding midfielder chipped in with three goals and assists apiece, but it was his defensive work that held Pellegrino Matarazzo’s promoted team together. The 5’10’’ man covered the sixth-most distance of any Bundesliga player in 2020/21, boasted a pass completion rate of 86 per cent, and won over half of his duels – with his total of 476 victorious challenges the most in the whole league.
Japan’s final game in Group A is on 28 July against France, who have named highly rated central midfielder Tousart in their squad. Although 24, the Hertha man isn’t an overage player as he was born after 1 January 1997, which was the cut-off date originally set and since maintained by FIFA following the Games’ one-year delay. Tousart was a regular for France’s youth teams, captaining the side that won the UEFA European U19 Championship in 2016 and being named in the Team of the Tournament.
Hertha signed the midfielder in January 2020 but sent him back to Lyon until the end of the season, where he scored a volley in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as the French side knocked out Juventus. His first campaign in Germany was a tough one as the Berliners struggled down at the wrong end of the table, but Tousart remained a regular in the Hertha team throughout, primarily in a deeper holding role. “I am very honoured to be able to participate in the Olympics, it was a personal goal for me,” he told La Depeche. “I’ve been in regular contact with the coach [Sylvain Ripoll] throughout the season and he's been checking in on me to see how I'm adapting to Germany.”