FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018

FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018

5 August - 24 August

FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

Starting small, making it big

Alex Morgan of USA celebrates
© Getty Images
  • The U-20 Women's World Cup takes place from August 5 to 24 in France
  • Brittany is ready to welcome this latest edition of the tournament
  • We look at the women’s football stars that have shined at this competition​

From 5 August, 16 teams will go head-to-head at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 in a bid to win the ninth edition of this hotly-contested tournament, but before proceedings get underway, many experts are asking: What football gems will this competition unearth? Who will make their big breakthrough, and who will we see again next year at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™?

These questions are not surprising when you look back at the tournament’s past. In 2002, a player stepped on to this stage who would go on to shape the future of women’s football and be crowned FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year five times. Of course, we are talking about one of the sport’s biggest global stars: Marta. Aged just 16, the Brazilian guided A Seleção to fourth place at what was then known as the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Canada. She helped her side repeat this achievement at the 2004 competition in Thailand and was deservedly rewarded with the adidas Golden Ball for her efforts.

A new star in football’s sky
2002 marked the breakthrough of another major personality in women’s football when Canadian Christine Sinclair first demonstrated her immense talent to the world on home soil in a display that earned her both the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Boot. Since then, Sinclair has featured at four senior World Cups and three Olympic Games, helping Canada to win bronze at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

This prestigious youth tournament has also been a breeding ground for exceptional talent from the USA. Sydney Leroux took part in the 2004 U-19 competition in Thailand before causing a sensation at Chile 2008 and Germany 2010. Her performances helped her side reach the quarter-finals in 2004 and 2010, but in 2008 she guided the Stars and Stripes all the way to the title – a success Alex Morgan can also count among her many career highlights, as it was in this year that the now 29-year-old first made a name for herself. In 2011, Morgan was one of the USA's standout players at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany before contributing to her team’s success at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.

From Young Nadeshiko to world champion
USA’s victory over Japan in that 2012 Olympic final came just one year after a bitter defeat to the same opponents in the Women’s World Cup Final. Mana Iwabuchi featured for the Nadeshiko at both tournaments, having already broken through with a string of impressive performances at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup New Zealand 2008. Two years later, coach Norio Sasaki called upon the talents of the 1.53-metre striker at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

At that competition in 2010, Germany secured the title and ushered in a new star in Alexandra Popp. The striker scored an incredible ten goals in six games during the campaign and was duly rewarded with a promotion to the senior national side. Dzsenifer Marozsan’s career began in a similar fashion after she made two successive final appearances at the 2010 and 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cups. She made her full senior debut in October 2010 and went on to win gold alongside Popp at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016.

Former U-20 players reaching new heights
The recent success of France is most closely associated with two players in particular: Wendie Renard and Louisa Necib, who finished fourth with Les Bleues at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and 2012 Olympics. “There aren’t many players like Louisa,” former France coach Bruni Bini once said in an interview with “She can do things you wouldn’t even find in an instruction manual for the perfect footballer. Quite simply, she’s an artist.” Necib first appeared on the world stage at the 2006 U-20 tournament in Russia.

Two years later, her team-mate Renard stepped into the spotlight in Chile and has since gone on to captivate fans with her magnificent performances for both club and country, having appeared in two Women's World Cups and two Olympic Games. 

This look back at the heroines of past U-20 Women’s World Cups offers startling proof that this tournament never fails to produce new stars. We can only wait and see what breakthroughs France 2018 will bring.

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