Today, teenagers from all over the globe will be competing for the title of world champion. Some of these players could be the superstars of tomorrow! The under 20 World Cup kicks off in Poland this afternoon. Here’s your look into the tournament, the teams competing and all the matches!
The U-20 World Cup is comprised of 24 nations from across the globe. These 24 teams all qualified for this tournament, and are split into six groups of four teams. The teams in each group will play three matches against the other teams in the group. The standings will be determined by the normal soccer points system (three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss).
A top two finish in each group would be enough for a nation to move on to the knockout rounds, while the top four third place teams will also qualify for knock out football!
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, here is a look at each group and the countries that will be playing for glory!
The Group Stage:
Colombia lead off group A the South American side needed every single match in their qualifying to make the U-20 World Cup, as they qualified on the last day of the 2019 South American U-20 Championship. Poland are the hosts of the U-20 World Cup and are making their first appearance in the tournament since 2007. Senegal are the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations champions, and look to be a strong side in the U-20 World Cup. Tahiti qualified for the u-20 World Cup after a strong second place finish in the Oceania U-20 Championship.
Ecuador had an impressive run to the U-20 World Cup; beating Argentina, Colombia and drawing Brazil in route to their first ever U-20 CONMEBOL championship. Italy are a strong European side who made the World Cup because of their play in the 2018 UEFA Under-19 Championship competition, where they were runners-up. Japan cruised their way to Poland 2019 in their AFC qualifying campaign, however their quest to remain U-20 Champions of Asia was halted in the semifinals. Mexico look to be a team of promise at the 2019 U-20 World Cup; they qualified for the tournament by finishing as runners up at the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
Honduras are at this U-20 World Cup thanks to a semifinals run in the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship; they’ll be looking to show they’re good enough on the world stage. New Zealand are in the 2019 U-20 World Cup thanks to their OFC U-20 Championship; the Kiwi’s 7th championship will hope to be a building block at the World Cup. Norway made it into the World Cup by beating the holding U-20 World Cup Champions England at the U-19 European Championships, to get the final UEFA spot in the tournament. Uruguay are at this U-20 World Cup thanks to a third place finish at U-20 South American Championship; their hoping they can find consistent form on the biggest stage.
Nigeria scraped their way to the U-20 World Cup; they qualified by making the semifinals of the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, but inconsistencies caused them to to finish fourth in that competition. Qatar qualified for Poland 2019 by making the semifinals of the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship; the Qataris have shown their goal scoring prominence and could be a dark-horse in Group D. Ukraine went on a surprise run in U-19 European Championships to the quarterfinals securing their spot in Poland 2019; their grit and tenacity to beat some of the best in Europe will prepare them for this test on the world stage. USA won the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship to get to the U-20 World Cup; the Red, White and Blue are fielding what could be one of their strongest sides ever which scored 46 goals in their eight qualifying matches while conceding just two.
France made the quarterfinals of the 2018 UEFA Under-19 Championship, which was good enough to get them to Poland 2019, they will have to rely on their potent attack to get them goals to progress at this U-20 World Cup. Mali are the U-20 Champions of Africa; they will look to bring that confidence with them to the U-20 World Cup. Panama made the semifinals of the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship to get to the U-20 World Cup; their strong offense and stout defense will be called upon to help them progress. Saudi Arabia won the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship in route to qualifying for Poland 2019, they will look to play the role of underdog in this World Cup.
Argentina were U-20 South American title runners-up; their place ensured their attendance at the U-20 World Cup, but their shaky play could mean they are in for a tough time in Group F. Korea Republic (South Korea) made the semifinals of the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship which punched their ticket to Poland 2019, they’ll need to be more solid than they were in their qualifying tournament to make any headway at this World Cup. Portugal are 2018 UEFA Under-19 champions, they showed a resilience in their qualifying they hope to bring to the 2019 U-20 World Cup. South Africa finished third at the 2019 CAF Africa U-20 Cup of Nations to qualify for the U-20 World Cup, they will need to will their way to get results in this very strong group.
These 24 teams will be battling it out to get to the knockout rounds of the tournament.
As said before, after all of the group games are finished. The top two teams from each group and the four best third place finishers in each group will move on to single elimination knockout games. Should a game be tied after the regulation 90 minutes of game play, then the teams will play two 15 minute overtime periods. If the contest is still tied, then the teams will decide a winner by taking penalty kicks.
The action starts today!
Games kick off today as the teams from Group A and Group B play! Be sure to check out the match schedule, and tune in to the games on the Fox family of networks/streaming on Fox Sports Go! Tune in to enjoy this exuberance of the youth game, where players are playing for their nations, and for a chance at making a name for themselves!
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Mandatory Credit: FIFA.com
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.