Spain and Japan meet in Friday’s U-20 Women’s World Cup final
Both teams seeking their first title in this competition
France and England meet in the Play-off for third place
MATCHDAY PREVIEW – Friday will see a new champion crowned in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, as Japan and Spain will do battle in the final of France 2018.
The French region of Brittany has seen 16 of the best U-20 women’s sides in the world perform with passion and ability over the past few weeks. It is now down to last year’s U-19 champions of Asia and Europe to contest for the trophy at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes.
Beforehand, Monday’s two losing semi-finalists England and France will square off in the third-place play-off, with the Young Lionesses looking to earn their best-ever finish at this competition.
The games Play-off for third place France-England, Vannes, 16:00 (local time)
Final Spain-Japan, Vannes, 19:30 (local time)
What you need to know 1. So we meet again… As part of their preparations for Friday’s big match, the two finalists are sure to analyse their Group C meeting between each other in Concarneau on 9 August. A Carmen Menayo goal was all that separated both sides, as Spain defeated Japan 1-0 that day. It was also the same scoreline when both teams met in the group stage at Papua New Guinea 2016, with La Rojita coming out on top again. However, Japan have history of beating Spain in a final. In Costa Rica in 2014, the East Asians claimed a 2-0 victory to win that year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup title. Several players that played in that final are set to lock horns again in Vannes.
2. Absent Aitana One issue that Spain will need to address is how to replace the suspended Aitana Bonmati in midfield. The Barcelona player was in a flood of tears on Monday evening after being sent off for two bookable offences in La Rojita’s semi-final win over hosts France and her absence is a big loss for the Spanish, with Bonmati having been an ever-present during this tournament. With the midfield battle being a possible key to the outcome of the final, it remains to be seen what coach Pedro Lopez will try and do to make up for Bonmati’s unavailability.
3. Nadeshiko Fortress Japan impressed many during the knockout stages with their impressive attacking flair and quality goalscoring. Yet, spare a thought for the Young Nadeshiko’s defensive efforts in reaching the final. Led by captain Moeka Minami at centre-back, Japan were successful in limiting Germany to a late consolation goal in the quarter-finals, and more impressively, claiming a clean sheet against a high-scoring England side in the semi-finals. With plenty at stake in the final, the way Futoshi Ikeda’s side try and limit Spain’s attack may well prove equally crucial to their hopes of lifting the trophy.
4. Finishing strong Though both sides would have preferred to be in the showcase game on the final matchday, England and France will not want their efforts at this tournament to end on a sour note in the Play-off for third place. Whether they win or lose this game, Mo Marley’s side will be proud of achieving their best-ever finish at a U-20 Women’s World Cup, but claiming a bronze medal will be a positive way to conclude a memorable campaign for the Young Lionesses. The hosts will also want to end their time in Brittany in the right way after seeing their hopes of reaching the final dashed in heartbreaking style against Spain. Expect a good contest between these two European rivals.