Argentina are just 90 minutes away from claiming an incredible sixth world title in this category. Some 30 years on from the inaugural edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Albiceleste are hoping to draw inspiration from their proud record at the tournament as they head into Sunday's decider against first-time finalists Czech Republic. Read on as FIFA.com lists five reasons why the South Americans are considered favourites for victory here in Canada. However, don't write off the East Europeans, who are determined to relieve the holders of their title and strike a blow for Czech football.
History: With five U-20 world titles to their name, Argentina are the most successful team in the history of the competition. The first win came at Japan 1979, when some dazzling displays by a certain Diego Armando Maradona proved instrumental. The Albiceleste's 16-year wait for their second title finally ended at Qatar 1995 after the appointment of coach Jose Pekerman and assistant Hugo Tocalli. The duo would go on to lead the side to further honours at Malaysia 1997, Argentina 2001 and Netherlands 2005. "We're one step away from maintaining that tradition," said current boss Tocalli, who will be appearing at his first final without Pekerman this Sunday.
Current form: The performances of Tocalli's side have been steadily improving as the tournament has gone on. The team topped Group E with two wins and a draw, the latter coming against Sunday's opponents. In the Round of 16, they came from behind to see off Poland (3-1) thanks in no small part to star striker Sergio Aguero, while in the quarters and semis respectively, they put paid to the hopes of two of the best footballing sides at Canada 2007: Mexico (1-0) and Chile (3-0). "When the going gets tough, this team stands tall and imposes its personality. Our results so far have helped our confidence, but there is still one more step to go," says attacking midfielder and four-goal scorer Maximiliano Moralez.
Stats: Argentina are the team with the highest number of goals scored (14) and the lowest number conceded (1) at Canada 2007. The only team they failed to score against was Czech Republic, while the only side to breach Sergio Romero's goal were Poland. However, even then, the Albiceleste bounced back to seal a comfortable victory. "We'll be looking to field an attacking side, which will come as no surprise given the players we have in our squad. We didn't start [our campaign] too well against the Czechs, but we've ended up playing the kind of football our people like to see," remarks the coach.
Experience: Unlike many of their competitors at Canada 2007, Argentina's players have already accumulated a wealth of first-team experience at club sides, both at home and abroad. For example, of the side that started their semi-final against Chile, seven are first-choice players at their clubs, two others are occasional starters, while two more are waiting for the chance at Spanish side Sevilla and England's Liverpool respectively. Tocalli makes no attempt to mask the pride he feels about his players: "Regardless of what happens in Sunday's final, I'm very happy with this group of players. We need to look beyond the results to the long term, and in this respect I think we're forming very complete players for future senior teams."
Hunger: While the Czech Republic players will not be lacking in desire on Sunday, the young Albicelestes will take to the field in the knowledge that a win could speed up their promotion to Alfio Basile's senior team. Sergio Aguero, a member of the side who lifted the title at Netherlands 2005 and the team's top-scorer here in Canada, explains what victory would mean. "Wearing the national colours is an honour in any category. All of us know that winning this title would represent the kind of step up in quality we need if we are to be considered for inclusion in the senior team. And that's what we're aspiring to."