FIFA U20 World Cup - Knockout Stage Preview
By Marco Fumagalli
On Tuesday 2 July the second stage of the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup will begin; 16 teams out 24 passed the group stage and are ready for the knockout stage. Let’s have a look at the draw and the possible quarter finals matches.
(France Vs Turkey) against (Greece Vs Uzbekistan).
France passed as second in Group A after defeating easily Ghana and tying against the US but losing harshly against the favorite of the tournament, Spain; what worries about France is that coach Mankovski hasn’t been capable of using his talented squad in the best possible way yet. Kondogbia and Ngando were out of position and the tactics used are not helping either.
The match against Turkey seems written on paper, however the host country will have the loud crowd on their side and will try to fill the skill gap with a strong will and a pressing game lead by the newly signed Standard Liege player Alpaslan.
France is the favorite for this match but if we’re looking for an upset in this round, this could be the one.
Uzbekistan started the tournament very well, however they seem to be slowing down and the injury of their best talent, Iskanderov, who will be out for the remaining of the tournament are negative factors for this surprising team.
Greece plays like an experienced team and despite the defensive football they play, the results keep coming and they are more than an outsider; they may not be beautiful to watch but Greece are very efficient and that’s what’s needed in a tournament with this format.
(Portugal Vs Ghana) against (Croatia Vs Chile)
If the tournament is still alive despite the obvious superiority of Spain is also thanks to Portugal who showed moments of good football and is lead by young star of Sporting Lisbon Bruma.
Ghana, after losing to Spain and France, scored four goals to the US and qualified with the last available spot over Egypt thanks to the goals scored rule.
Portugal shouldn’t have any problems to pass the tie and face Croatia or Chile, two good teams and possible outsiders.
Croatia managed to win Group F with Uruguay, Uzbekistan and New Zealand; coach Jelicic can count on an interesting and balanced squad with talents such as Inter’s Livaja who will play another year on loan to Atalanta in Serie A.
The game should be a good one to watch as Chile is the South American version of Croatia, capable of unexpected results.
(Iraq Vs Paraguay) against (Colombia Vs South Korea)
Iraq-Paraguay is perhaps the most uncertain of the eight finals; Iraq is the surprise of the tournament so far able to win a though group with fast and skilled football while Paraguay ended second in the group after losing the tie-breaker draw with Greece and will have to face now the hardest bracket with possibly Colombia in quarter final and Spain in the hypothetical semi-final.
One thing seems sure, there should be goals from both sides in this open match to watch.
The other match will be the duel between the 2013 South American U19 Champion and the 2012 AFC U19 Champion where Colombia will be the favorite against South Korea; the South Americans seems though and can count among all on Cordoba and Porto’s new signing Quintero.
The Asians haven’t impressed at all so far and have one of the slowest and less skilled team seen in years.
(Nigeria Vs Uruguay) against (Spain Vs Mexico)
Open match in Istanbul where an overall solid Nigeria will face Uruguay who’s the typical team built for tournaments. The Africans are very physical and it’ll be a powerful duel against the South Americans.
Both teams will give 100% as they both know it’ll probably be their last match in the tournament as the winner will most likely face Spain next.
Mexico qualified for this round after losing to Greece and Paraguay in a 4-1 victory over Mali; it doesn’t seem to be the typical U20 strong team that we’re used to and facing Spain will probably mean the end of the trip for them despite talented Espericueta.
The Spaniards have an excellent team, coach Lopotegui can count on a full squad of talented and hungry players that are here to win.
The weakest link of the team is goalkeeper Sotres but in face of his there’s a solid defense that doesn’t concede many opportunities to the opponents; there’s a lot of choices in the midfield and in the offense and we’ll just mention three names: playmaker from Atletico Madrid Oliver Torres who’s a future Pirlo, offensive players from Real Madrid Jese and from Barcelona Deulofeu.