- Two Asian teams in action at the start of the knockout phase
- * * Top goalscorers *Venezuela go head-to-head with Japan*
- * * Hosts to play in front of capacity crowd
The FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 has reached the knockout stages and two Asian teams, including the tournament hosts, will feature in the eagerly-anticipated opening encounters of the Round of 16.
Korea Republic started superbly and won their first two matches at the competition, thereby booking their place in the next round with a game to spare, before just losing out to England in their final group fixture. Opponents Portugal, on the other hand, needed a narrow win over Iran in a nerve-jangling last group game to book their place in the last 16.
The day's other match pits Venezuela against Japan. The South Americans were outstanding in the group phase, winning three times without conceding a single goal. Japan's progress to the knockout stages was considerably more fraught, with the Samurai Blue needing to come from behind against Italy to secure their ticket.
*What you need to know *1 Japan's back four will have their work cut out for them. Not only are Venezuela the most free-scoring side at the tournament so far with ten goals, in Sergio Cordova they also boast the leading scorer in their ranks - the No9 having already found the target four times.
2 However, Japan have a clinical attacker of their own: Ritsu Doan. The midfielder has scored three so far and almost single-handedly led his team into the last 16 with a brace against Italy.
3 Korea Republic are hoping their match against Portugal is merely a stepping stone en route to a long-awaited title triumph. Host nations have lifted the trophy twice in U-20 World Cup history: Portugal in 1991, and Argentina ten years later.
4 One advantage for the Koreans could be the raucous support from the home fans. Their supporters created an electric atmosphere in each of the team's three group games and the stage is set for them to do so again in the last 16 tie in Cheonan, as the stadium is sold out.
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