RIO DE JANEIRO — They love basketball and volleyball in Brazil. Formula One racing and martial arts have produced many of the country’s sports heroes.
But every sport is overshadowed by the towering popularity of soccer, which has become almost synonymous with the nation.
So fans here are eager for a victory at Brazil’s Olympics, especially after an embarrassing, 7-1 clobbering by Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Despite its glorious soccer history, Brazil, a five-time World Cup champion, has never won a gold medal in the sport at the Olympics.
To improve its chances this year, one of the country’s best players, Neymar, was added to a team mostly composed of players under 23.
The draw seemed favorable. Brazil opened against South Africa. But Neymar’s gifts did not seem to mesh well with those of his younger…