The U-20 World Cup is just a few weeks away from starting. In LatinAmerican Post we tell you the reality of all the Latin American teams that will compete in this important competition.
LatinAmerican Post | Nicolás Donoso Álvarez
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Leer en español: Mundial Sub 20: ¿Qué esperar de las selecciones latinoamericanas?
After Fifa decided to remove the organization of the U-20 World Cup from Indonesia and designated Argentina as the new venue, the soccer environment is already beginning to be lived in southern lands. On the verge of the World Cup starting (it will take place from May 20 to June 11). 24 teams will be part of the event, eight of them from Latin America and with various options of qualifying for the next phase and even, in some cases, fighting for the long-awaited title that Ukraine won in 2019, the current champion after defeating 3-1 to South Korea.
For Latin America, the options are dissimilar and in this article we analyze them. While Brazil and Uruguay shone in the South American U-20 and aspire to compete with candidates like England, France and Italy. Argentina did not even access the final hexagonal of the qualifier and will have the obligation to redeem itself in front of its public. Meanwhile, Colombia will play their chances in a very even group and Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala will have to perform to the maximum of their possibilities if they want to access the next phase.
What is expected of the Latin American teams
Argentina will join group A, facing Uzbekistan (U-20 Asian Cup champion), Guatemala (Concacaf Under-20 Championship semifinalist) and New Zealand (U-20 Oceania Championship champion). Due to history and soccer tradition, the rivals seem to be simple for the albiceleste. However, they are far from it. First, because they will not be able to count on Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United) or Nicolás Paz (Real Madrid), and second, because more than one of the other teams could surprise. Uzbekistan won its first U-20 continental title undefeated, with three wins and three draws, leaving rivals Australia, South Korea and Iraq behind. In addition, it stands out for having the one who was the best player in the championship, Abbosbek Fayzullaev, and for its defensive solidity (they only conceded one goal in the six games).
Meanwhile, Guatemala will play its second World Cup after reaching the semifinals in its area, and due to how open the group is, it will try to sneak into the round of 16, either by taking one of the first two places or one of the four best third. For this, it will be key for the Guatemalans to defeat New Zealand on the first date, a team that has grown in the lower categories in recent years (in the 2019 U-20 World Cup they reached the round of 16).
You can also read: The Latin American Promises that Could Miss the U-20 World Cup
For group B, Ecuador, which only won two of the nine games it played in the South American Sub 20, seems to be the weakest South American team in the world. However, "la Tri" fell into a group where although the United States is the favorite (current champion of the Concacaf Under-20 Championship), it has a chance against Slovakia, which qualified thanks to a playoff instance, and Fiji, set that should not be a major problem.
When talking about group C, Colombia ended up in a sector with heterogeneous styles, but with homogeneous levels. Third in the South American U-20 and with players of great projection such as Óscar Cortés (Millonarios), Gustavo Puerta (Nuremberg) and Yaser Asprilla (Watford) will collide with the current African champions, Senegal. The cafeteros will also compete with Japan (which in its last five participations has always passed the phase) and the European runners-up, Israel. In group H, Honduras will have the difficult task of facing France, South Korea and The Gambia, with little chance of reaching the top 16.
We have left England, France, Brazil, and Uruguay for last, since due to their squads and moment of form they are possibly the candidates to win the World Cup. The English, who share a group with Uruguay, Iraq and Tunisia, will compete for first place with Uruguay, and from there, because they are European champions and because of the possibility they have of having players of the stature of Aaron Ramsey (Middlesbrough), Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea) and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens (Borussia Dortmund), should fight for the trophy. The same case as the Uruguayans, who were runners-up in the South American U-20 tournament and have high-level players such as Álvaro Rodríguez (Real Madrid Castilla), Luciano Rodríguez (Liverpool Montevideo) and Fabricio Díaz (Liverpool Montevideo) in their possession. However, the Merengue striker has not received permission from his club to play in the championship.
As South American champions and with a star-studded squad, Brazil will try to clinch a title they haven't won since 2011, and this could be a great opportunity, despite not having Vitor Roque, one of the top scorers in the South American, nor with Endrick (16 years old, he will play for Real Madrid when he comes of age). Seven wins, two draws and no losses was his impressive record in the standings, which added to a highly talented squad (Marcos Leonardo, from Santos, Sávio Moreira, from PSV, Matheus Nascimiento, from Botafogo, Andrey Santos, from Vasco da Gama and Matheus Martins, from Watford) allow him to get excited. The rookie Dominican Republic, Nigeria and Italy, their rivals in the group stage.
Nor should we forget France, a team that will face South Korea, Gambia and Honduras, but that, in the absence of an official roster, could form a very competitive eleven, with Eliesse Ben Seghir (AS Monaco), Cher Ndour (Benfica B), Momo Cho (Real Sociedad) and Soumaïla Coulibaly (Borussia Dortmund) in the lead.
With this kind of incentive, there is hope that this will be a great world championship, in which a high competition rate is seen and that all the participating Latin American teams can demonstrate all their talent on the pitch.