Wednesday’s double-header second-round matches in Cordoba promise to be the pick of the action as the FIFA World Youth Championship moves into its second stage in Argentina.
Lining up against each other first in Cordoba will be two European giants, France and Germany, followed on the double-bill by Brazil–Australia. While the European face-off needs no introduction, the game between the established might of Brazil and the ambitious Australians not only echoes the recent clash between the two senior sides at the Confederations Cup in Korea, which the Aussies won 1-0, but could also serve as a youth-level preview for a possible World Cup play-off between the same two countries in a few months’ time.
But while the Cordoba games form the main focus of attention, home fans will be more concerned with their own team’s fortunes against China on the double-bill in Buenos Aires that starts with the United States against Egypt. Argentina looked strong in their first round matches while China scraped through as a third-placed team with only four points from three games and a 1-1 goal tally, and neither the US nor Egypt looked much more convincing in their first three outings.
Thursday’s games, one per venue, see the impressive Ukraine take on Paraguay in Mendoza, and then the surprise package from Costa Rica (who, along with Argentina and Brazil, won all three group matches) against the Czechs. Another surprise team, Angola, who topped their group thanks largely to a fine 2-1 defeat of Japan, face the fortunate Dutch, and their fellow Africans from Ghana will be looking for a quarter-final place at the expense of Ecuador.
The eight winners move into Sunday’s quarter-finals, with the semi-finals scheduled for next Wednesday and the Final in Buenos Aires on Sunday week.