Who will make the last 16?
Everything to play for in Groups C and D
Zambia and Uruguay already through to the Round of 16
Japan and Italy effectively in a play-off
The final matchday in Groups C and D at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 promises to be a veritable thriller, with places in the Round of 16 up for grabs. Zambia and Uruguay are already through to the knock-out stage, but behind those two, there is plenty still to play for.
In Group D, it is a winner-take-all showdown between Japan and Italy. South Africa, meanwhile, opened their campaign with two defeats, and have little hope of progressing any further, particularly since they are up against Uruguay, who are well clear at the top of the table.
The situation in Group C is even more dramatic. A win over Portugal would definitely be enough to see Iran through to the next round, while both Portugal and Costa Rica, who are up against group leaders Zambia, know that only three points will be enough if they are to progress.
The games Group C: Costa Rica-Zambia | Portugal-Iran Group D: Japan-Italy | Uruguay-South Africa
What you need to know
Zambia have been one of the star turns of this FIFA U-20 World Cup thus far. The African champions have an open, attacking style of play that is as ruthlessly efficient, as it is easy on the eye. They racked up six goals in their first two matches, all from open play and with five different scorers.
Two-time U-20 World Cup winners Portugal have yet to find their A-game in Korea Republic, and the 2015 quarter-finalists are looking at an early exit, if they do not start putting away more of their chances. And should their opponents Iran manage to beat them, then that would represent an historic moment for the Asian team, who went out in the group phase of the two previous U-20 World Cups that they qualified for.
The showdown between Japan and Italy promises to be a thriller. Both teams have three points to their name, and win for either would see them through to the knockout stages. A draw should also be enough for Italy, as it would keep them above Japan – provided that South Africa do not win against Uruguay.
That Uruguay are already through to the Round of 16 with a match to spare is primarily down to their solidity at the back. Standout goalkeeper Santiago Mele and the defence in front of him kept clean sheets in their opening two matches, and it was defender Mathias Olivera who scored the clinching goal in their 2-0 win over Japan.
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