On the wrong end of a punishing 4-1 loss to the hosts in their opening game, France will resume their FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 bid desperate for a win to revive their hopes of reaching the knockout phase. Unfortunately for them, upcoming opponents Korea Republic will be anything but pushovers, having shown in their victory against Mali that they possess the character and technique to go far in this tournament.
The equation is simple for Les Bleuets: if they lose, their campaign will be over before it ever got going. On paper, this France side are one of the most experienced in the competition, with plenty of players reared on top-level football in the Premier League, Spanish Liga and Ligue 1. They should therefore be more than capable of overcoming their Asian rivals, but they will need to show they have learnt the lesson of their loss to Colombia and convert more of their chances.
How many chances they can create is another matter altogether, with Korea Republic proving in their own first assignment that they possess a number of qualities France lack. For a start, their defence held firm despite the power Mali possessed going forward and, on the rare occasions their African opponents broke through, goalkeeper Yang Han-Been, who is a doubt for tomorrow's game with a nose injury, was in no mood to be beaten. Lee Kwang-Jong’s side were similarly effective at the other end of the pitch, pouncing on a pair of mistakes to find the net. The young Taeguk Warriors boast a measure of breathing space thanks to that opening victory, but they will not want to lose it now with the hosts awaiting in their final fixture.
1 – The number of times these sides have met at U-20 level, their previous encounter having come during the group stage at Malaysia 1997. France won that contest 4-2 thanks to two goals apiece from a pair of forwards yet to become household names back home: Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet. Any scorers for Les Bleuets on Tuesday will no doubt dream of following similar career paths.
"We have to forget the loss to Colombia. We’d gone unbeaten for 20-odd matches, so it had to happen one day. We’ll need to pick ourselves up and win our matches against Korea Republic and Mali. I have no doubt about the strength of character in the squad. They’ll raise their game and I’m certain I’ll get to watch their last-16 match on television,” France defender Chris Mavinga, before he travelled home after picking up an injury.