Argentine football could really do with a boost right now. Just over a month ago, the country's senior team lost in the final of a major tournament in agonizing circumstances for a third summer in succession. After the pain of losing the World Cup final in extra time and the Copa America on penalties came another shootout loss to Chile at the climax of the Copa America Centenario. Victory could have papered over cracks, instead what followed Lionel Messi's miss and flowing tears highlighted the dysfunctional state of the country's football.
Messi announced his retirement from the national team, it is believed in large part due to the shambles in Argentina's football association, which remained without a president and, amid a financial crisis, had been taken over by FIFA. Then coach Gerardo Martino, who had been confirmed as the man to lead the team to the Olympics only days before, resigned his post due to difficulty getting clubs to release players to travel to Brazil.
Such was the disorder that the possibility of Argentina not even sending a team to compete in the men's Olympic competition was strongly mooted. As well as getting players together, finding someone to coach them at short notice provided its own problems.
There was, after all, just one coach employed by the AFA at the time. That was Julio Olarticoechea, who was the coach of the women's national team but as chaos began to reign had also recently took charge of the men's Under-20 side. A former defender, who was a part of the Argentina squads that won the World Cup in 1986 and finished as runner-up four years later, Olarticoechea has now been handed his moment in the limelight as coach of the Olympic team.
"They say you have to be in the right place at the right time. Well, here I am," he said after being given the job of leading the team in Brazil. "I feel fantastic. I like tough challenges. We're going to give our all to honor this shirt and the responsibility we have taken on. I am extremely confident that we'll do well."
Argentina certainly has a rich recent history at the event. It won back-to-back gold medals in 2004 and 2008, with squads featuring an extraordinary array of young talent, including Messi, Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez. That that generation has not gone onto claim senior glory continues to be a crushing disappointment.
Nobody can claim the 2016 Olympic squad has anything like the same level of potential. The roster could have been far more impressive, but Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi, Matias Kranevitter and Luciano Vietto were all denied permission from their clubs to join up.
Instead, the standout star will be Atletico Madrid forward Angel Correa, although Sao Paulo's Jonathan Calleri, scorer of nine goals in last season's Copa Libertadores, could also be a danger. The side will be captained by Independiente defender Victor Cuesta, who has been called in as one of the overage players for his experience at the back.
Argentina will begin its campaign with what is on paper its toughest game of the group phase, against Portugal at the Olympic Stadium in Rio on Thursday.
Portugal has only ever been to two Olympics in men's football, with its best result a fourth-placed finish in Atlanta 20 years ago. But the country has a rich history in youth competitions, and finished runner-up in the European Under-21 tournament last year. As well as the coach Rui Jorge, seven of the 18-man roster that will be in Brazil was part of that victorious team 12 months ago, including Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori.
Like Argentina, Portugal will not be close to as strong as it could have been, however. New Bayern Munich signing Renato Sanches, as well as Raphael Guerreiro, William Carvalho, Joao Mario and Andre Gomes were all on the preliminary squad before being cut after playing their part in Portugal's victorious Euro 2016 squad.
Portugal could be further weakened for its opening game, with injury concerns over Salvador Agra, Carlos Mane and Goncalo Paciencia. Still, both Portugal and Argentina will expect to get through as one of the top two teams in a group that also contains Algeria and Honduras.
Prediction: It promises to be a close contest and both teams could be happy to take a point from the opening match. Argentina's greater cutting edge may just decide the match in its favor, however.
Predicted Score: Argentina 2-1 Portugal