Argentina and Mexico return to FIFA U-20 World Cup finals action on Friday after an absence of four years. The pair’s last appearance at the main event was at Canada 2007, where, interestingly, they met each other at the quarter-final stage. It was the Albiceleste who won that day, before going on to lift the trophy, and they will no doubt put the new El Tricolor side to the test once again in their opening match in Group F.
Argentina have won the competition more times than any other side. They go into Colombia 2011 with coach Walter Perazzo at the helm, the coach who steered them to a finals berth via a third-place finish at the South American U-20 Championship in Peru. Both Perazzo and the fans appear to be optimistic about the team’s prospects in Colombia, and for good reason. The squad features several players with experience in Argentina’s top flight, with new Roma signing Erik Lamela perhaps the most notable talent. Lamela will be looking to link up with fellow starlet Juan Iturbe, who recently joined Portuguese giants FC Porto.
As for Mexico, coach Juan Carlos Chavez can claim the achievement of leading El Tricolor to their first CONCACAF U-20 Championship title in 19 years. That was a notable feat, and was followed by the country recently celebrating winning its second FIFA U-17 World Cup title in the space of just six years. Ulises Davila was Mexico’s stand-out performer in the qualifying tournament, and he will be looking to lead his side to a positive result here.
2 – The number of times Mexico and Argentina have faced each other in the history of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. El Tricolor won 4-1 when the sides met at Nigeria 1999, while the Albiceleste came out on top with a 1-0 victory at Canada 2007 before going on to win the competition.
“I always think of Mexico as a great opponent, one that you have to respect. It’s a special match and a difficult one at that, because we’re up against a team we know. They always look to play with pace up front, which is something I like,” Argentina playmaker Erik Lamela