The FIFA Under-20 World Cup is currently ongoing in Poland. The event began on May 23 and will extend through to June 15. The last 10 days have seen the competing teams strive to make the cut and sail through to the round of 16. A number of teams have already been kicked out of the competition after being defeated in the group stage matches, including Mexico and Tahiti who lost to Ecuador and Colombia respectively last Wednesday.
England failed to qualify
England who are the defending champions of the title failed to qualify for this year’s event. It means that other team, such as Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, Senegal, France and Portugal has an opportunity to win this year’s tournament.
In my view, France and Argentina appear to have a better chance of making it to the finals. France is currently at the top of Group E having won all three matches, while Argentina is at the top of Group F with six points.
We take a look at the two teams to get a clue of how this year’s U-20 World Cup will turn out.
France is among the teams that are the favorites to win this year’s U-20 World Cup. They have won all three matches in the group and are currently first placed in Group E with nine points. Bernard Diomède’s side beat Mali 3-2 on May 31 to sail through to the round of 16. France will now face the United States in the round of 16 match on June 4, which is a must win for them if they dream of reaching the final.
Les Bleus won three of their last five matches in the Under-20 National Team Friendlies. They have also won seven of nine matches in all competitions in the 2018/2019 season.
France’s players to watch
Boubacar Kamara, Moussa Diaby, Dan-Axel Zagadou are some of the key players that will determine the fate of France in this year’s World Cup.
Marseille’s Kamara has made 27 appearances for the club and has played five games in the UEFA Europa League. The 19-year-old’s strong defensive ability will be crucial for France’s quest to lift the trophy. He has made a total of 18 appearances at home and 20 away. Kamara is among some of the players under close watch by some of Europe’s top clubs as the transfer window approaches.
The 19-year-old currently plays for Ligue 1 giants PSG as a winger. Diaby has made 10 appearances for PSG where he has scored two goals and provided six assists. He made three appearances in the U-20 World Cup 2019 and scored one goal. Diaby will play as a forward in the French team. His experience in front will be an asset to his side.
Dan-Axel Zagadou currently plays for Borussia Dortmund. The 20-year-old defender has made four appearances in the UEFA Champions League. Zagadou has played 15 times for Dortmund and has scored two goals. For the time being, he scored one goal in the ongoing tournament in Poland.
Argentina are among the four South American nations that booked the slot for the U-20 World Cup in Poland, along with Uruguay, Colombia and Ecuador. Argentina is the most successful team in the World Cup U-20 having won the title six times. This means, Fernando Batista’s side are a team to beat in the event.
Argentina have won two of their last three matches in the ongoing tournament. Fernando Batista’s side are currently leading in Group F with six points. They suffered a shocking defeat from the hands of South Korea on Friday, in a match that ended 2-1, but still moved up to the Round of 16 due to their earlier victories against South Africa and Portugal.
Argentina’s players to watch
Some of the players who will be crucial for Argentina’s quest for the U-20 World Cup title include;
Ezequiel Barco currently plays for the Atlanta United in the Major League Soccer as an attacking midfielder. The 20-year-old has scored four goals and provided one assist in his six appearances for the MLS side. Barco has scored two goals in the last three matches for Argentina in Poland. He has made three appearances in away matches for Atlanta United.
The 20-year-old has made 12 appearances for Talleres in Primera Division where he scored two goals. Maroni has made a total of eight appearances as an attacking midfielder and five appearances as a substitute. He has already scored one goal in the three matches played in the ongoing tournament in Poland.
Argentina are the favorites to win
Judging from the above history and the current form of the teams, Argentina have better odds of emerging victorious in the Under-20 World Cup 2019 finals in Poland. I believe that since Fernando Batista’s side are the most successful team in the tournament, they have an upper hand in their quest for the title.
France on the other hand, have a stronger squad with experienced players that have played for bigger teams. The presence of players like PSG’s Moussa Diaby and Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou in the squad means that Les Bleus will be the team to beat. We will be waiting to see what happens at the end of the four-week tournament.
Photo by Raineiro Cobos via Wikicommons (CC BY 2.0)