So often in the past, the soccer competition at the Olympics has felt like something of an unwanted impostor. With an Olympic gold paling in comparison to the achievement of bringing home the World Cup, many have questioned the merit of soccer in even being part of the celebration of sport every four years. Previously, the lack of excitement has been evident with preliminary games that are so scarcely attended that they look more like a Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game than the pinnacle of sport.
There is a different feel to the competition at this year's Games, however. For starters, the iconic soccer nation of Brazil has picked an incredibly strong team that closely resembles the side that will go for World Cup glory on home soil in 2014. Certainly it would unwise to tell the Brazilians that the Olympics do not matter as they chase the one international honor to so far elude the glory-laden soccer nation.
But the competition has received its biggest boost by the participation of the home nation. With the Olympics taking place in London, Great Britain is taking part in the Games for the first time since 1960. And the home fans have responded.
Sell-out crowds at both Old Trafford and Wembley have showed the interest in Team GB, although the often subdued atmosphere also reflected the oddity of seeing the home nations unified for the first time in many fans' memory.
That could be changing, though, as Britain's men start to build belief and momentum.
The men's team got off to an inauspicious start, playing to a 1-1 draw with Senegal, but was able to fight off a comeback to record an impressive 3-1 victory over the United Arab Emirates.
Led by an opening goal from ageless captain Ryan Giggs, Team GB gave up an equalizer, but pulled ahead late when substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge both found the back of the net.
That win put Britain at the top of Group A, ahead of a surprising Senegal squad thanks to its greater number of goals scored. Now, Britain only has to avoid a loss at the hands of a defensively weak Uruguayan side to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
It won't come easy though. Uruguay were one of the pre-tournament favorites built on a formidable attack that has yet to find its rhythm. With Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez unable to find the back of the net thus far in the tournament, they will be desperate to pull out of their scoring droughts against Britain.
GB coach Stuart Pearce still holds the belief that the gold medal will be won by whoever beats Brazil, a game against another strong South American side will be a great litmus test for the British side. The two teams kick off at 2:45 ET, at the City of Coventry Stadium.