U-20 FIFA World Cup: Previewing Every Quarter-Final Game
The FIFA U-20 World Cup round of 16 matches are over and we have our quarter-final dates.
It's where the competition really begins to hot up and the floating voters start to take more notice—can you spot world football's next biggest star plying his trade?
Some progressed with ease. For others, it took extra time and penalties. Here, B/R previews each of the four quarter-final matchups in full.
France vs. Uzbekistan
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July 6, 11 a.m. ET.
Our first quarter-final brings together two teams with extremely different expectations coming into the tournament.
France are a nation full of budding stars plying their trade in some of Europe's top leagues, so Paul Pogba, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Lucas Digne, Kurt Zouma and company were expected to reach the latter stages.
They struggled to get going early on in the tournament but exploded against Turkey, winning so comfortably that Florian Thauvin had time to blaze a penalty over the bar like Sergio Ramos.
In stark contrast, Uzbekistan represent an up-and-coming nation who simply weren't fancied during the warmups.
However, they've stunned experts and impressed neutrals with their crushing victories over New Zealand and Greece, surpassing many expectations.
France are heavily fancied to progress. To do so, they must ensure their central midfield turns on the style in a similar fashion to the victory over Turkey. They were carried by Yaya Sanogo and his full-backs for too long, were slow moving the ball centrally and lacked penetration.
Uruguay vs. Spain
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July 6, 2 p.m. ET.
Uruguay squeezed into the quarter-finals thanks to a 2-1 win over Nigeria and it feels like we haven't seen them flex their muscles yet.
The South American sides were billed as some of the strongest coming into the tournament, but la Celeste will need to step it up if they want to beat Spain.
Guillermo Varela, Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Jose Gimenez will all have to reach a new level to progress.
Spain sailed easily through the group stage with three wins, but ran into a roadblock in the form of Mexico in the round of 16. Conceding within three minutes wasn't in the game plan, but Jese bailed his nation out in the final minute to progress.
It was the wide forward's fifth goal in the competition, and despite the falter, la Roja are still favourites to go through.
Uruguay will have to be patient, counterattack Spain's tiki-taka system and set up a solid defensive effort to go through. Mexico proved them far from invincible and managed to frustrate Oliver Torres and company.
La Celeste must pull off something similar, then attack the channels at pace to expose the centre-backs.
Iraq vs. South Korea
July 7, 11 a.m. ET.
There will be at least one team from the Asia qualifying zone in the semifinals thanks to the heroics of these young squads.
Unfancied Iraq were expected to finish dead last in a group with England, Egypt and Chile, but ended up topping it, scoring a last-minute equaliser against the Three Lions to fuel a near-inconceivable trip to the knockout stages.
They needed extra time to dispense with Paraguay, but Farhan Shakor's 94th-minute strike sealed their passage.
South Korea encountered similar problems in the form of another South American opponent. Colombia proved a stern test and the two went all the way to penalties, with los Cafeteros defender Deivy Balanta missing in sudden death.
The Red Devils announced their presence at the tournament with an impressive draw with attacking powerhouses Portugal, and despite a loss to Nigeria, progressed to the knockout stages.
If you're looking for an underdog to win the entire tournament, it's Lee Kwang-Jong's men.
Ghana vs. Chile
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July 7, 2 p.m. ET.
Ghana qualified from a horrendous group in third place thanks to a tournament allowance, and while many thought they were there to make up the numbers, they clearly had other ideas.
They knocked Portugal out in the round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals, becoming the first nation to stop the prolific Bruma from scoring and halting the finalists two years ago in their tracks.
They have explosive talent running through the squad and were touted as a side who could upset the big boys before the tournament started. If they want to progress to the semifinals, they're going to have to upset another.
Chile were extremely slow starters in the competition but found a way to win that all-important first game. Despite Cristian Cuevas' sending off, they defeated a superior Egypt side and used it as a platform to progress.
Their win over Croatia in the round of 16 was a serious achievement considering how well Dinko Jelicic's men have been playing, and will now carry the torch for the South American sides in Turkey.
Chile love to play the ball along the floor and will look to break Ghana down using Angelo Henriquez's movement and Bryan Rabello's technical prowess.
The Black Satellites will likely play how they always do: direct, speedy and with one thing on their minds—finding the back of the net.