France will face Uruguay in the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup Final
By Marco Fumagalli
France defeated Ghana 2-1 and advances to the final of the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup in a match that will be open to debate and polemics. They will be the favorite to win the trophy when they will face Uruguay who defeated Iraq after a marathon session of penalty kicks.
The way the draw was set forced France and Ghana to play each other again having faced each other earlier in the tournament during the group stage in Istanbul. France had won that encounter 3-1 after a balanced first half that ended 0-0; it is the proof that Group A was the 'real' group of death as it also contained Spain and the USA.
French coach Mankowski seems to have understood his previous mistakes and adjusted tactically. France with a 4-2-3-1 made sense but also picking the right players in their correct positions; Areola in goal, Zouma and Umitti in the center of the defense, Foulquier on the right back and Digne on the lef. These two players are the tactical difference of a solid team that with their constant forays down the wings bring a number of double teams making it hard for the opponents to defend; Pogba and Kondogbia are the wall in front of the defense, Sanogo the center forward with Veretout behind him, Thauvin on the right and Bahebeck on the left wing.
A very flexible 4-4-1-1 for Ghana with their strength being on the left side where defender Baba and especially midfielder Acheampong gave France troubles.
It was a warm day in Bursa in the Ataturk Stadium and the 18:00 kickoff starting time didn’t help with the heat, however both teams began full speed with chances for both sides.
In the 5th minute Lucas Digne was 1 to 1 with Ghana’s goalkeeper Antwi but missed the opportunity and one minute later Bahbebeck had a similar chance.
After 20 intense minutes the pace slowed down and the play of both teams became predictable. It seemed that the first half was going to be scoreless however France built a beautiful combination play on the right side which brought Thauvin to being alone facing goalkeeper Antwi and finding the net.
Great play which chareacterized French superiority except for the fact that Thauvin who was previously given a yellow card for simulation, went to the corner kick and took the flag out and acted what seemed to be a doubtful show. Incredibly the referee didn’t show him the second yellow card for what seemed to be an exaggerated pantomime and this questionable decision by the referee from Bahrain, Shukralla, effected the match and perhaps the entire tournament.
France could even have scored a second goal in injury time of the first half but Digne got blocked Ghana’s goalkeeper.
The second half began with Ghana pressing France and they came close to tying on the 46th minute when a lshot from outside the box just missed the post. In the 49th minute a beautiful free kick by Acheampong was saved by Areola who made another great save on the resulting corner kick.
Sandwiched between these two moments Ghana was able to tie the game with a great left shot from outside the box by Assifuah. France responded, Thauvin who was supposed to be sent off scored his second goal for France which turned out to be the winning goal giving Les Bleus access to the final.
The match was far from being over as Ghana did not give up but had to face the man of the match: Areola. Two more amazing saves by the French goalkeeper kept his team ahead.
It is very interesting how the semi finals had 4 teams from 4 different Continents: France, Ghana, Iraq and Uruguay. It’s good for FIFA and for football in general.
One thing is certain: whoever wins, it’ll be the first time. It’ll also be the first final in history for France while Uruguay lost in 1997 to Argentina.
France is now the favorite for the tournament and has the chance to take the trophy back to Europe after 14 years of South American domination with the exception of Ghana in 2009. Uruguay however has eliminated Nigeria and Spain who were the favorite of the tournament.
The final will be played on Saturday evening in Istanbul in Ali Sami Yen Arena.