Men’s Olympics 2024 Group D teams and prediction: Japan looking to cause an upset

Out of the Men's Olympics 2024 Group D teams at the Paris games, there are no clear favourites to go all the way. But that only serves to heighten the sense of intrigue around a very open group.

Japan are the most experienced and successful team in their group, even if it's only by virtue of their bronze medal back in 1968. As such, the likes of Israel, Paraguay and Mali won't simply be there to make up the numbers.

Japan will be in Group D at the 2024 Olympics
Japan may be regarded as favourites to win Group D – Photo by Icon Sport

Men's Olympics 2024 Group D prediction

Group winners: Japan

Given there is no major footballing superpower in Group D, we can't see a gold medallist emerging from this side of the draw, but Japan may well cause some shocks and claim a rare medal in football.

Japan experienced extra-time heartache at the 2020 Olympics – which they hosted – going out to Spain with just five minutes left until a penalty shoot-out.

They've actually reached two semi-finals across the last three Olympic Games – doing so in 2012 as well as 2020. However, it's going to be very difficult to achieve any sort of material success, given they have no overage players in their squad and a lot of their top stars will not be in Paris.

The likes of Kubo Takefusa, Suzuki Yuito and Suzuki Zion have not been given permission by their European clubs to participate in the games.

Japan certainly will not be overwhelmed by any occasion in Paris, with only five nations having played more times at Olympic games than themselves. So, big things will be expected despite their very young squad.

Paraguay set to participate at the 2024 Olympics
Paraguay will be hoping their young stars perform better in Paris than the senior team did during Copa America – Photo by Icon Sport

Runners up: Paraguay

While Paraguay have struggled to qualify for major tournaments on the footballing scene as well as the Olympic games – they've not been here since Athens 2004 – they are now tipped as dark horses. Paraguay have only participated in two Olympic games, in 1992 and 2004 winning a silver medal in Athens, but with an exciting crop of youngsters this could be a memorable summer.

There is also a lot of substance behind those dark horse claims surrounding Paraguay. La Albirroja managed to win the pre-Olympic Conmebol tournament which included the likes of Argentina and Brazil, two countries who will be heavy favourites this summer

Paraguay have never failed to make it out of the group stages in their two previous appearances at the Olympics. The minimum expectation will be to get to the knockout stages once again, and then once there, it will be about taking their chances when they come.

Mali are confident heading into the 2024 Olympics
Confidence is growing that this Mali side could win their country's first-ever Olympic medal – Photo by Icon Sport

Third place: Mali

Mali managed to qualify in dramatic fashion winning a penalty shoot-out against Guinea to book their place at Paris 2024. This highly-anticipated participation for Mali will bring an end to a very long 20-year absence from the Olympics.

The Malians have only appeared once at the Olympic Games, doing so in 2004 when they impressively reached the quarter-finals in Athens. So, while they have very little experience in this sort of tournament football, the country's sports minister believes this crop of players could win a medal.

Despite Mali taking part in every Olympics since 1980, it would be a stunning feat for them if they were to upset the odds and claim a bronze medal or better. Yet, with so many other nations bereft of their best players, nothing is impossible.

Israel will be hoping to cause an upset
Israel will be up against the odds to reach the knockout stages – Photo by Icon Sport

Eliminated: Israel

As with a lot of the other sides in Group D, Israel have had to contend with a long absence from the Olympic games with it being 48 years since they last participated in football. Israel's head coach, Guy Luzon has admitted the main goal is for Israel to at least reach the quarter-final stage in Paris this summer.

While they managed to get out of the group stages at Montreal in 1976, they didn't win a single game and drew all three of their matches before losing in the knockout stages. Israel's young stars could be ready to make a name for themselves after helping their country reach the semi-finals of the Under-21 European Championships, which helped them book their spot in this summer's games.

Group D Winners – Potential quarter-final opponents

The winner of Group D – predicted to be Japan – will go on to face the runner-up from Group C, which contains Argentina, Egypt, Uzbekistan and the Dominican Republic.

It would take a bold prediction to go against Argentina topping Group C and that leaves the three teams to scrap it out for second spot. We believe it shouldn't be too close and that Egypt will have enough to finish as best of the rest in Group C.

While Egypt don't have someone such as Mohamed Salah playing in the Olympics, they do have former Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian star is the standout man in the squad and has the ability to break up attacks and also spring forward which will be crucial to any sort of success.

See also: Why Uzbekistan may surprass all expectations

Aaron is a multi-skilled sports content writer and media professional. He is a specialist in both Men's and Women's football, along with golf.