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FIFA U-20 World Cup

Matchday Preview: Title contenders enter the fray

The U-20 national team of Portugal pose during a visit to the Bielsko-Biala Stadium
© Getty Images
  • First matches in Groups E and F take place this Saturday
  • France, Portugal and Argentina put their ambitions to the test
  • African champions Mali, 2017 hosts Korea Republic also kick off

MATCHDAY PREVIEW – The last two groups at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 get under way this Saturday, with some of the tournament’s leading contenders in action.

In Group E, France face a stern test from a Saudi Arabia side that swept to their third Asian title in qualifying for Poland. Les Tricolores have one of the strongest squads on show but an inconsistent record in the tournament, though they did win it in 2013.

The other match in the section promises to be every bit as exciting, as reigning African champions Mali, who impressed on their two previous tournament appearances, meet Panama. The Central Americans are on something of a roll and hope to record their first U-20 World Cup victory at the 16th attempt.

Over in Group F, heavyweights Argentina and Portugal are aiming to score respective wins against South Africa and AFC Asian Cup runners-up Korea Republic before they face off on the second matchday in the pool.

The games

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

Group F
Argentina-South Africa (Tychy, 20:30)
Portugal-Korea Republic (Bielsko Biala, 15:30)

What you need to know

“These players are two-time champions of Europe. We are happy to shoulder the expectations that come with that and we are the first to accept them. It’s only natural to have that pressure on us because we are Portugal, one of the leading nations in Europe and the world.” Portugal coach Helio Dias discusses the status of his group of players, who won the U-20 European title in 2018, two years after lifting the U-17 continental crown

Players to watch

Amine Gouiri
Forward, France

The Lyon man top-scored for France in last year’s qualifiers with four goals only to succumb to a knee injury last August. Having returned to action in April, Gouiri is fit and raring to go as he looks to recreate the form that brought him five goals at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

Florentino Luis
Midfielder, Portugal

Portugal’s defensive linchpin was on duty two years ago in Korea Republic, when his side beat the hosts 3-1 in the Round of 16. “We had a very strong side that worked really well as a unit and had some good individuals, too,” said a player whose experience should prove invaluable for the European champions on Saturday.

See also

FIFA U-20 World Cup on Facebook

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