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FIFA U-20 World Cup

Argentina in danger, last hope for hosts

(FIFA.com)
Angel Correa and Giovanni Simeone of Argentina react as players of Ghana celebrates
© Getty Images

With the first sets of plane tickets home set to be printed, the final round of fixtures in groups A and B at the FIFA U-20 World Cup are sure to be tense and enthralling affairs.

The local support here in New Zealand will hope the Junior All Whites can keep their names in the hat with their first win, while favourites Argentina are seriously at risk of heading out much earlier than all expected.

There's a battle for top in Group A, while all four teams can finish anywhere in Group B. And with synchronised kick-offs, drama is guaranteed. FIFA.compreviews matchday seven.

Match of the day
*Austria-Argentina, Wellington, 5 June 2015, 19.00 (local time)
*Heavily tipped before the tournament to take the title back to South American for a record seventh time, Argentina now find themselves fighting for their lives at the finale of Group B.

Things are yet to go to plan for Humberto Grondona's continental champions and they will need to find form quickly if they are to avoid and embarrassing exit, having picked up just one point from their two opening games. In their way are an Austria side who have impressed in patches throughout the tournament.

Were it not for some poor penalty taking - or fine goalkeeping, depending on your viewpoint - against Panama, they would be top of the group. With plenty of industry in a side who are dangerous from crosses, there's no reason to rule out Argentina leaving with just that solitary point to their name.

The other matches
In a straight shoot-out for top spot in Group A, Ukraine-USA promises to be an intriguing battle. Both stumbled in their first outings, then came into their own at the second time of asking. Tab Ramos knows a draw will do for the Stars and Stripes, but after Ukraine's six-goal spree in the second-half against Myanmar, keeping them at bay could be a challenge.

Ghana will be hoping to seal top spot in Group B, though with goal difference so tight with Austria, getting plenty on the scoreboard is the only way they can guarantee it. Panama will be fighting tooth and nail to upset the Black Satellites, however, with all still to play for.

In what looks set to be a battle for third in Group A – with goal difference heavily in Ukraine's favour – New Zealand will be desperate to avoid becoming the first host team to depart without a win since Canada in 2007. Victory will put them on the edge of sneaking through in third but Myanmar, who have been fans' favourites so far, can ruin that reputation with the locals by causing an upset in Wellington.

Player to watch
The introduction of Valerii Luchkevych at half-time against Myanmar may have caught much of the attention as the catalyst for their 6-0 triumph, but Viktor Kovalenkowas hugely influential in the centre of midfield. His great eye for a pass, no-nonsense attitude and lung-busting runs could be key to unlocking the American defence.

The stat 24 – It has been 24 years since Argentina last missed out on the second round of a U-20 World Cup. They have played a total of 52 games over eight tournaments since being eliminated at Portugal 1991.

The words
“I really hope that these four points will be enough to see us through to the last 16. I’d love for us to be able to stay in New Zealand even longer. The experience you gather at a tournament like this is worth its weight in gold.”
Andreas Heraf, Austria coach

Match schedule
Group A
Ukraine-USA (19:00, Auckland)
Myanmar-New Zealand (19:00, Wellington)

*Group B
*Panama-Ghana (16:00, Auckland)
Austria-Argentina (16:00, Wellington)

(All times local)

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