France cooly dispatch Ghana at U20 World Cup in Istanbul
By Marco Fumagalli
After a soporific first half in the Istanbul heat, France turned on the engine and took home their first three points against Ghana who seemed done in the second half of the first match of Group A.
3000 spectators among whom mostly family members of the players, managers, volunteers and scouts with only about a hundred supporters for Ghana, also cheered for by the locals, and perhaps less than fifty for France in the Istanbul heat in the 80s.
Typical 4-2-3-1 for coach Mankowski and his France full of talent: captain Pogba and Veretout in front of the defense in what seems to be the research of the future Deschamps-Vieira winning couple; Lucas Digne on the left, Sanogo as center forward and Kondogbia in the trequartista position which seems to be too offensive for him as France had a hard time creating plays and just waited for the opponents and contained them during the first half and tried to sting in counter attacks.
Ghana began with a 4-4-2; coach Tetteh had Duncan right in front of the defensive row to take control of the midfield and tried to have very offensive side midfielders. The game plan was to press France full court which helped creating at least two clear occasions which got wasted as the forwards didn’t seem to be having their best day. Ghana had the game in their hands in the first 45 minutes and was very dangerous on the left side where left back Ofori and left midfielder Acheampong dominated the side and managed to deliver a few dangerous crosses.
The second half was a complete different match, a one sided game for France who turned their 4-2-3-1 from defensive to offensive by locking down Ghana, who perhaps was out of gas, in their own half until the last 20 minutes of the match.
The feeling was that France could score anytime however on a set piece since they couldn’t get clear occasions through regular plays; on minute 65 Lucas Digne directly from a throw in on the left side found Kondogbia’s head in the middle of the box all by himself who simply caught a distracted and unprepared Ghana’s defense. 1-0.
France’s domination was ever more evident after the entrance of Ngando who managed to add more spice to what was a boring France until then. The second goal came at minute 68 after a fast breakthrough ended with an assist by Kondogbia who in our opinion was the man of the match for Sanogo. Bahebeck added a third one on minute 79 and the game seemed over even though the entrance of Juventus owned forward Boakye for Ghana had brought fresh strength up front.
It is Boakye that scored the goal of hope on minute 85 and short after delivered a perfect assist for Assifuah who didn’t managed to score the goal that could have reopened the match despite being one on one against France’s goalkeeper Areola.
In our opinion with Boakye in the starting eleven, Ghana could have been more prolific up front, the few occasions missed in the first half when Ghana had the momentum cost them the match at the end. Ghana plays Spain next and the road to next stage seems already very complicated.
France will play the US next in what could be an open match on Monday night.