Venezuela's game against the U.S. and England's meeting with Mexico are the standout matches among the quarter-finals of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
All four teams are in free-scoring form and boast squads packed with talent in every area. It's not outlandish to believe one of this quartet will win the tournament.
If there is a challenge to that notion, it will surely come from the resourceful and skilled Uruguay team set to face Portugal in the last eight. Meanwhile, an Italy team fresh from eliminating France will have to contend with surprise package Zambia.
All last-eight fixtures will be played on Sunday and Monday. For full schedule details, visit FIFA's official website.
England and Venezuela to Reach Semi-Finals
Everton striker Ademola Lookman bagged a brace to help England see off Costa Rica in the round of 16, reminding everyone of the quality the Three Lions boast in attack. Lookman is one of a quartet of Everton talents on display at this tournament, including fellow forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
It was Calvert-Lewin who assisted Lookman's second goal against Costa Rica, according to Phil Kirkbride of the Liverpool Echo. Their obvious rapport is a huge asset for England.
Along with Liverpool-bound Dominic Solanke, Lookman and Calvert-Lewin give the junior Three Lions enough firepower to edge past Mexico.
An abundance of quality in forward areas has also defined Venezuela's fine form in South Korea. Specifically, the gifted trio of Adalberto Penaranda, Yeferson Soteldo and Ronaldo Pena mean there are goals in every game for this Venezuela side, who are the joint-leading scorers at the tournament, per FIFA's official site.
Just to prove they are well-rounded, Venezuela also boast the competition's stinginess defence, having yet to concede through four matches. However, maintaining that record won't be easy against a U.S. side able to match Venezuela's 11 goals scored after a thumping 6-0 win over New Zealand in the previous round on Thursday.
Four of those goals came from the 17-year-old Josh Sargent, who equalled the tallies of some illustrious compatriots from previous tournaments, per FIFA.com on Twitter:
🇺🇸USA #U20WC Most Goals (4) Jozy Altidore Eddie Johnson Taylor Twellman Josh Sargent We spoke with the latest member https://t.co/TUdbM2NkGC https://t.co/8AiMng93x32017-6-1 15:41:44
The U.S. are in fine form, but Venezuela are the more complete team. Expect Penaranda and Co. to find a way to get through.
Italy Will Again Play Spoilers
Italy have a well-deserved reputation as spoilers at international tournaments, something they endorsed by beating France 2-1 in the previous round on Thursday. The Azzurri knocked out one of the favourites while also paying back Les Bleus for their defeat in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final in 2016.
As they have done throughout this tournament, Italy relied on attacking duo winger Riccardo Orsolini and striker Giuseppe Panico. Both scored against France, and Italy will need their goals again against a capable Zambia side.
The latter have scored goals for fun, hitting four twice, doing so in the seven-goal thriller to beat Germany in the last 16. Fashion Sakala and Enock Mwepu could cause Italy more than a few problems.
However, the Italians will do what they need to stifle Zambia and steadily overpower them.
Uruguay's game with Portugal is almost too close to call since both sides are rugged defensively. If one side has the edge, it could be Uruguay, who can call on a little more guile in midfield.
Most of the favourites will make it through, with goals galore likely in the game between Venezuela and the U.S.