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FIFA U-20 World Cup

Matchday Preview: Past champions clash in Bielsko-Biala

(FIFA.com)
Esequiel Barco of Argentina U-20s celebrates after scoring against South Africa
© Getty Images
  • Group E: Win and in for France
  • Group F: Heavyweight tilt on tap
  • Five teams fighting for first victory

MATCHDAY PREVIEW – Two former FIFA U-20 World Cup winners are set to square off on Tuesday in a first for Poland 2019.

The most high-profile fixture of the competition to date pits six-time champions Argentina against Portugal, who boast two titles of their own. Both teams began their Polish expeditions with wins: for the Portuguese it was a smooth-if-unremarkable triumph over Korea Republic, while Argentina blitzed South Africa for a four-goal second half. If either side can pick up three points at Bielsko-Biala Stadium, that will translate to a firm grip on the top spot in Group F.

The only winners in the first round of matches in Group E, France can lock down a spot in the knockout stage with a victory against Panama, who scratched out a draw in their opener thanks to substitute Diego Valanta's late converted penalty. Los Canaleros are still searching for their first win in the history of the competition, and topping Les Bleuets would make for a memorable one.

The day's two late match-ups feature teams determined for positive results after disappointing debuts. Many Korea Republic players collapsed on the field following their hard-fought loss to Portugal; a heartened performance against South Africa would raise both spirits and chances of advancement. Over in Group E, Asian champions Saudi Arabia will have their resolve tested by perennial contenders Mali.

The games

28 May

Group E
Panama-France (Bydgoszcz, 18:00)
Saudi Arabia-Mali (Gdynia, 20:30)

Group F
Portugal-Argentina (Bielsko-Biala, 18:00)
South Africa-Korea Republic (Tychy, 20:30)

What you need to know

Head to head: They may be the most decorated team at this level, but Argentina have yet to beat Portugal at a U-20 World Cup in three tries. Their last meeting was at the 2011 quarter-finals, which ended with the Portuguese advancing via penalty shoot-out after 120 minutes of scoreless football.

Angel Orelien, Panama midfielder: "We’re very strong at the back and we’re also working on different formations. Coach [Jorge Dely Valdes] has us playing a very different type of football to the traditional Panamanian game. So what we do is make ourselves very difficult to break down and hit really hard on the counter."

Players to watch

Ezequiel Barco (Argentina)
La Albiceleste's No20 was relentless against South Africa, sparking their second-half barrage with a brace. The second strike was one of the best of the competition so far, a slick, volleyed effort that swirled into the back corner of the net.

Lee Kangin (Korea Republic)
Korea Republic's playmaker shoulders plenty of creative responsibility in their attack, and he showed flashes of brilliance in an enthralling showdown against Florentino Luis, Portugal's budding defensive midfield star. Lee will need to better exploit the Amajita defence for his side to reach the Round of 16.

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