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Soccer on TV: The Olympics finally start, with the U.S. women and Mexico men in the spotlight

Plus the last games of the Gold Cup's group stage and some intriguing matchups in the Copa Libertadores round of 16.

U.S. soccer team players practicing on Saturday. They play their first game at the Olympics on Wednesday.
U.S. soccer team players practicing on Saturday. They play their first game at the Olympics on Wednesday.Read moreEugene Hoshiko / AP

Atlético Miniero vs. Boca Juniors

Tuesday, 6:15 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)

We spotlighted three Copa Libertadores round of 16 series here last week, and we’re spotlighting them again because the first legs all ended in ties. Boca came out the worst, held scoreless at home. Now the scene shifts from Buenos Aires to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where Eduardo Vargas and Atlético will be favored to advance.

Costa Rica vs. Jamaica

Tuesday, 7 p.m. (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)

When the Gold Cup group stage draw was made, this was one of the first games everyone circled. Both teams have lived up to the billing so far, winning each of their first two group stage games.

Costa Rica’s Ariel Lassiter, Ronald Matarrita, and Joel Campbell should give a great test to the Union’s Jamaican trio of Andre Blake, Alvas Powell, and Cory Burke, the last of whom scored a terrific goal in the Reggae Boyz’ 2-0 win over Guadeloupe on Friday.

The winner of this game will play Canada in the quarterfinals; the loser will play the United States. At the same time as this game, Suriname and Guadeloupe will play for third place (FS2, Galavisión).

» READ MORE: It took just one play for Dániel Gazdag to show his class in the Union’s win

Racing Club vs. São Paulo

Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. (beIN Sports Español)

The first leg of this series ended in a 1-1 tie in Brazil, so Ignacio Piatti and Racing should be favored to advance at home in Buenos Aires.

Honduras vs. Qatar

Tuesday, 9 p.m. (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)

Panama vs. Grenada

Tuesday, 9 p.m. (FS2, Galavisión)

There’s some genuine drama in the Gold Cup’s Group D. Qatar is in second place thanks to a 3-3 tie with Panama and a 4-0 win over Grenada, results that showed the host of next year’s World Cup can play some attacking soccer. Panama is in third thanks to that tie and a 3-2 loss to Honduras.

Panama must beat Grenada in Orlando and hope that Honduras beats Qatar in Houston by a large enough margin for the Canaleros to overturn a five-goal swing in goal difference. The good news for Panama is that Honduras will likely be buoyed by another big crowd in Houston, which has a big Honduran expatriate population.

Great Britain vs. Chile

Wednesday, 3:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel, Universo)

The long-awaited Olympic women’s soccer tournament kicks off Wednesday, two days before the Opening Ceremony kicks off the Tokyo Games in full. Great Britain plays as a unified country only in the Olympics, and its team has plenty of talent. England’s Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze, and Scotland’s Kim Little are among the headliners.

But the English contingent has underwhelmed at the international level, and this is a trap game for them. Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler is one of the world’s top netminders and will be an even bigger deal on the world stage when she starts playing for Lyon after the Olympics.

» READ MORE: The top players to watch at the Olympic men’s and women’s soccer tournaments

Sweden vs. United States

Wednesday, 4:30 a.m. (USA Network, Telemundo)

Whatever works for you to wake up early, start getting it ready. This game will be worth the alarm clock. Not only is it the U.S’ women’s team’s Olympic opener as it tries to become the first reigning World Cup champion to win Olympic gold, it’s the renewal of a great old rivalry. Caroline Seger, Kosovare Asslani, and the Swedes will relish trying to frustrate the Americans and trying to remind the world that they’re the No. 5 team in FIFA’s global rankings.

If you can’t watch the game live, it will be available for replay on along with all the other action in Japan. There will also be replays on NBC’s cable channels during the day and night.

Also Wednesday: China vs. Brazil, 4 a.m. (NBCSN); Japan vs. Canada, 6:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Universo); Zambia vs. Netherlands, 7 a.m. (Olympic Channel); Australia vs. New Zealand, 7:30 a.m. (USA Network)

» READ MORE: The U.S. women’s soccer team is the heavy Olympic favorite, seeking a feat never achieved before

Argentinos Juniors vs. River Plate

Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. (beIN Sports Español)

The first leg of this Copa Libertadores round of 16 series ended in a 1-1 tie on River Plate’s home field. Now the scene shifts around five miles south across Buenos Aires to the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona, where Argentinos will try to oust their famous city rival.

Mexico vs. France

Thursday, 4 a.m. (USA Network, Telemundo)

There’s a lot of buzz around Mexico’s men’s team going into the Olympics, and for good reason. Diego Lainez, the 21-year-old winger, is a star and surrounded by key veterans in goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, midfielder Luis Romo, and striker Henry Martín.

This game will be a great measuring stick. France defender Timothée Pembélé is a rising star with Paris Saint-Germain, and two of Les Bleus’ three over-age players play for Liga MX power Tigres: winger Florian Thauvin, and prolific striker André-Pierre Gignac.

Also Thursday: Egypt vs. Spain, 3:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel, Universo); New Zealand vs. South Korea, 4 a.m. (NBCSN); Ivory Coast vs. Saudi Arabia, 4:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel); Argentina vs. Australia, 6:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel, Universo); Japan vs. South Africa, 7 a.m. (NBCSN); Honduras vs. Romania, 7 a.m. (; Brazil vs. Germany, 7:30 a.m. (USA Network, Telemundo)