France vs. Ghana: FIFA U20 World Cup Semi-final Preview, Predictions

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France vs. Ghana: FIFA U20 World Cup Semi-final Preview, Predictions
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

France and Ghana meet for the second time in the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Turkey on Wednesday.

This time in Bursa and not Istanbul, the first of the two semi-finals pits the two most prolific sides in the tournament against each other.

France have netted 13 goals so far and Ghana are close behind with 12.

The clash is also a rematch of both sides’ opening match this competition, and a chance to assess how far both have come.

With a berth in Saturday’s final at stake, expect an entertaining spectacle.

Here is a closer look at both sides.


France

After starting their opening match against Ghana relatively slowly, three goals in the second half saw France past the Black Satellites.

Pierre Mankowski’s side come into their semi-final matchup on the back of an impressive 4-0 win over Uzbekistan, their second consecutive match having scored four times.

The eight goals in two matches is a sign of the growing confidence in the side.

After the 1-1 draw with the USA and 2-1 defeat to Spain that followed the Ghana win, it looked as if Les Bleuets might have lost their momentum.

Thumping Turkey 4-1 after coming through Group A in second place, behind Spain, appears to have been the turning point.

In a match that easily could have seen France crack under the intimidating atmosphere they were walking into in Gaziantep, they destroyed the hosts instead.

The following 4-0 win over Uzbekistan only confirmed their return to form and confidence.

Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

France’s stars of the tournament so far have been Arsenal’s new signing Yaya Sanogo, with four goals, and Sevilla’s highly-rated midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia who has scored two and set up two.

Sanogo’s four thus far have him one behind tournament leaders Bruma and Jese on five, with potentially two matches left to play.

Outside of the pair, Lille’s Lucas Digne has been putting transfer speculation linking him with a move to Paris Saint-Germain (via ESPN FC) aside to aid his team with two assists.

New teammate Florian Thavin has done the same with one goal and an assist so far.


Chances

 Facing Ghana for a second time this tournament, having opened the competition with a 3-1 win in Istanbul, France will be keen to avoid complacency a second time around.

After that victory France stumbled, drawing with the USA and losing to Spain, almost ending their hopes early on.

Despite how well Ghana are playing in the competition, it is impossible to avoid the disparity between the sides.

Les Bleuets are awash with plenty of pedigree and a number of their players are already playing regular football for top European sides.

Ghana are raw and relatively untried, even if they are in good form, and it is hard to see past Mankowski’s side.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

 

Stats

 Goals: Yaya Sanogo 4, Geoffrey Kondogbia 2, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck 2, Paul Pogba 1, Florian Thauvin 1, Jordan Veretout 1, Kurt Zouma 1 and Thibaut Vion 1.

Assists: Geoffrey Kondogbia 2, Lucas Digne 2, Dimitri Foulquier 1, Yaya Sanogo 1, Florian Thauvin 1, Axel Ngando 1 and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck 1.

 

Ghana

 Ghana will also be looking to prove that they have learned their lesson.

After their opening defeat to France, they also stumbled. Another defeat, 1-0 to Spain this time, directly followed.

Only a redeeming 4-1 mauling of the USA saw them steal qualification in third place, ahead of Egypt by virtue of a better number of goals scored.

A last 16 match-up with 2011’s runners-up Portugal was their reward.

Despite being overriding underdogs, the Black Satellites edged past the Portuguese with two late goals.

Sellas Teteh’s side looked to be down and out after the opening two matches but have fought back superbly and now look prolific.

They came back from a goal down against Chile at half time to win in extra time thanks to Ebenezer Assifuah-Inkoom’s late, late strike.

Assifuah has scored four goals so far and is undoubtedly Ghana’s star man.

In fact, seven Ghanaians have scored so far in Turkey, a real team effort.

 

Chances

 Ghana will be out for revenge against France after their drubbing in the opening match, but they are outgunned in terms of quality.

What they do have is plenty of desire and a fantastic work ethic.

Although France have almost unrivalled quality over the rest of the remaining field, their downfall could still be their attitude.

Typically implosive, like their senior counterparts, Les Bleuets could approach the match thinking they have already won. In which case, they might get a rude awakening.

 

Stats

 Goals: Ebenezer Assifuah-Inkoom 4, Yiadom Boakye 2, Kennedy Ashia 2, Moses Odjer 1, Michael Anaba 1, Seidu Salifu 1 and Frank Acheampong 1.

Assists: Frank Acheampong 3, Yiadom Boakye 2, Clifford Aboagye 2, Seidu Salifu 1, Abdul Rahman Baba 1 and Francis Narh 1.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

 

Prediction

 France’s greatest strength is in their strikers being fast and athletic as well as their awesome strength in the middle with Pogba and Kondogbia in particular being very influential.

Ghana will need to counter-attack to have any chance of winning and that looks like an unlikely way to beat the French.

Given France’s all-around quality and strength in depth, it is hard to see them dropping this one.

However, the longer the match goes on and remains goalless, the more it plays into Ghana’s hands. An early French goal could potentially be devastating and the floodgates could open.

An early Ghana goal on the other hand, and it forces France to come out of their shell.

That said, I expect France to ease to victory, my prediction is France 3-0 Ghana and a ticket to their first ever under-20 World Cup final for Mankowski’s kids.

*All statistics via FIFA.com.

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