The FIFA U-20 World Cup semifinals are set: France will face Ghana, and Iraq will clash with Uruguay.
France vs. Ghana
This match pits the two most prolific goalscoring teams in the tournament against one another with France having netted 13 goals and Ghana having tallied 12.
Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo leads the French with four goals so far in the tournament. He is one goal off the tournament leaders, Bruma and Jese. Only two other French players have recorded two goals, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck. Eight total players on France have contributed at least one goal.
Liberty Professionals’ (Ghana Premier League) striker Ebenezer Assifuah-Inkoom has shouldered the majority of the goalscoring for Ghana, having notched four goals in the tournament for the Black Stars. Kennedy Ashia and Yiadom Boakye have chipped in with two goals apiece. Seven Ghanaians have scored so far in the U-20 FIFA World Cup.
This semifinal offers Ghana the chance for revenge, after losing to France in the Group Stage, 3-1. France started the match relatively slowly but used three second-half goals to cruise to a comfortable victory.
By many measures, France was the superior side, attempting more shots, (20 for France, 15 for Ghana), earning more corners (four for France, three for Ghana) and holding the majority of possession (57 percent for France, 43 percent for Ghana).
Key in defending for Ghana will be slowing Sanogo, who bagged the game-winner in the team's Group Stage match. In terms of tactics, France has had success playing through the middle, utilizing the strength and speed of its athletic strikers.
Ghana will need to determine if it wants to defend and counter or play a more open style to go toe-to-toe with the French. A ticket to the U-20 World Cup Final is at stake in what has the potential to be a strategically entertaining 90 minutes.
Prediction: France 2-0.
Iraq vs. Uruguay
This will be the first meeting in the U-20 World Cup in Turkey between Iraq and Uruguay.
Iraq earned its place in the semifinals after outlasting the Korea Republic in a wild match decided in penalties (3-3, 5-4 in penalties). Uruguay punched its ticket by ousting Spain 1-0 in its quarterfinal match.
Success in this tournament for Uruguay has been focused on the team’s impressive goals against per match average. Los Charruas have only allowed two goals total, tied with Colombia for the least amount in the U-20 World Cup. Uruguay’s goal against per match average is a favorable 0.4.
Iraq’s path to the semifinal has been more about scoring than defending.
The Iraqis have scored the fourth most goals (10) in the U-20 World Cup so far. They boast a goals per match average of two goals, once again the fourth highest total.
Sulaymaniyah FC's (Iraqi Premier League) Farhan Shakor has contributed 30 percent of Iraq’s goals. Ali Faez is the only other player on the Lions of Mesopotamia to have netted more than one goal in the tournament.
A.S. Roma’s Nicolas Lopez is responsible for 44 percent of Uruguay’s nine goals in the tournament so far. Giorgian De Arrascaeta is the only other Uruguayan to have contributed more than one goal (two) in the team’s five matches.
It is quite possible that this match will come down to whether or not Iraq can break down the organized Uruguayan backs. Like the first semifinal, this match also has the potential to be very tactically driven as the two teams bring differing styles.
Prediction: Uruguay 2-1.
All data gather from FIFA.com.