Given the quality of some of the other sides which began the Olympic football competition, the likes of Spain, Uruguay and indeed Team GB, a semi-final between Mexico and Japan could at best be described as unexpected.
Yet both teams have, during the tournament, shown defensive resilience and attacking potential and are well worthy of their place in the last four.
Paddy Power have Japan as the slight favourites priced at 13/8 (2.63) while Mexico can be backed at 17/10 (2.70).
Japan's status as favourites is perhaps understandable given their defeat of Spain in the group stage, their victory over Mexico just before the start of the games, plus their four consecutive clean sheets in the competition. Undoubtedly, they are hard to beat.
Yet there is something about this Mexican side that excites and intrigues.
With Spurs forward Giovani Dos Santos having netted three times, and the team managing three clean sheets from their four matches, Mexico's attacking flair has been balanced with some discipline.
Given both sides' solidity at the back, it is hardly surprising to find under 2.5 goals in the match offered at 1/2 (1.50). This bet looks highly likely to pay out, but will only attract serious punters at that price.
Instead backing Mexico in the "Draw No Bet" market at evens (2.00) looks to offer more value. This bet will reward punters for a Mexican win but also refund stakes should the match end all square after 90 minutes.
The Mexicans have shown themselves capable of playing some excellent football, and while Japan have been organised, energetic and cohesive, Mexico have more players capable of that bit of magic which is often necessary to separate two evenly-matched teams.
To continue the theme of a narrow win for Mexico, a value bet selection of Mexico to win to nil at 7/2 (4.50) could appeal, and has paid out in two of their last three matches.
|Mexico Draw No Bet at evens (2.00) with Paddy Power
||Mexico to win to nil at 7/2 (4.50) with Paddy Power|
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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.