Hosts and European champs resume rivalry

Colombia face France as both sides make their first appearances at this FIFA U-20 World Cup. The two title hopefuls square off in Group A, with Los Cafeteros out to delight their home crowd and Les Bleuets determined to confirm their status as genuine contenders for the trophy.

The match
Colombia-France, Saturday 30 July, Bogota, 20.00 (local time)

The stakes
Colombia and France know each other well, having met in the final of the Toulon Tournament last month. The match went to penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time, and it was the South Americans who emerged victorious. Coach Eduardo Lara will be hoping his side can maintain the positive form they have shown since their below-par performance at the South American Youth Championship earlier this year. With players like Porto’s James Rodriguez among their ranks, Colombia have every chance of mounting a strong challenge.

For their part, France will be making their first FIFA U-20 World Cup appearance in a decade. The reigning European champions will be looking to key men Gael Kakuta and Antoine Griezmann for inspiration, and the pair will no doubt be keen to help the team build on that impressive continental triumph.

The stat
– Only two teams have won the FIFA U-20 World Cup as hosts: Portugal in 1991 and Argentina in 2001. Can Colombia add their name to the list in 2011?

The words
Eduardo Lara, Colombia coach: “We can’t afford to switch off or make mistakes against France, because they’re a very dangerous opponent. The tactical side is ready, so all that’s left is to wait and see how the players respond."
Antoine Griezmann, France forward: “Colombia are playing at home and the stadium will be full. This is the most important match of the group phase, and the one I’m fearing the most.”