The final four group matches at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 begin with not one of the teams involved assured of qualification or consigned to elimination. Everything, therefore, is up for grabs, although the likes of Chile, Iraq, Croatia and Uzbekistan undoubtedly have a great deal more to build on than struggling sides such as Egypt, England and New Zealand.
A total of five players will pay the price for having collected yellow cards in each of their opening two matches. Croatia will be without both Ivan Aleksic and Nico Datkovic, while Iraq’s Ali Faez, Daniel Potts of England and Uzbekistan’s Maksimilian Fomin are also due to serve one-match suspensions.
Match of the Day
On the evidence garnered thus far, Chile’s top-of-the-table clash with Iraq should be a veritable feast for the eyes. The Iraqis have been the tournament’s surprise packages, taking first England and then Egypt off guard with their energy, boundless enthusiasm and never-say-die spirit. Indeed, they currently lead Group E on goals scored.
However, an injury picked up by star player Mohanad Abdulraheem against the Pharaohs could threaten his involvement, and any weakness is sure to be exploited by a talented Chile side. The South Americans boast a wealth of offensive options and are sure to pose plenty of problems for the Iraqis with their slick attacking interplay. On offer to the winner is top spot in Group E and the chance to stay put in the coastal city of Antalya for the last 16.
The heat is very much on in Group E’s other match, with England and Egypt both aware of the consequences should more points be dropped. England are in a stronger position and could yet qualify with a draw, although only a win – something they have not managed in their last 16 FIFA U-20 World Cup encounters – will guarantee their place in the last 16. The Pharaohs, meanwhile, know that anything short of a victory – and likely a resounding one – will see them miss out on one of the best third-place berths.
In Group F, group leaders Uzbekistan face third-place Uruguay in a match that could see one, or both, guarantee their places in the knockout rounds. Croatia, for their part, will be eyeing top spot when they go up against a New Zealand side that, while not officially out of the tournament, will need to cause a one of its biggest-ever sensations to keep their hopes alive.
Player to watch
Ross Barkley lived up to his billing as England’s star player against Chile, thriving in an attacking midfield role and providing constant support to the lone centre-forward, Harry Kane. The Everton youngster’s surging runs are sure to be one of the major dangers to an Egypt defence that has, at times, proved susceptible to players breaking from deep positions.
0 – Group F duo New Zealand and Uruguay are the best behaved teams thus far at Turkey 2013, having completed their first two matches without a single yellow or red card. The Kiwis will, however, be less happy that they are the only team in the tournament still with zero in their goals for column.
“I know the Uruguay team well, having played against them in Mexico two years ago. There are quite a few of the same players that played in that match and we are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. We are confident we know how to get a result against them.”
Sardor Rakhmanov, Uzbekistan defender