FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019

FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019

23 May - 15 June

FIFA U-20 World Cup

Matchday Preview: Former champions face tests, derby day for Asian duo

Youssouf Fofana of France celebrates with teammates after scoring
© Getty Images
  • Familiar foes do battle in Lublin
  • France aim to oust USA
  • Argentina wary of Mali threat

MATCHDAY PREVIEW – The Round of 16 continues on Tuesday 4 June with three matches on the card, including an Asian derby between Korea Republic and a Japan side whose high-energy pressing sparked their solid showing in the group phase. The Taeguk Warriors started a bit slower at Poland 2019 and needed a signature win over Argentina to progress. The Asian rivals both went out at this stage of the competition in 2017.

France were given a stern test by Mali in their last outing and will need to be back to their best for what promises to be an exciting tie against the USA. Bernard Diomede’s side impressed more than most in the group phase, while the Stars and Stripes play a free-flowing attacking game, all of which should make for an entertaining spectacle. USA coach Tab Ramos will have to make do without midfielders Chris Durkin and Alex Mendez, both suspended.

There is another interesting clash of styles in store in the day’s closing match between Argentina and Mali. With his side already qualified for the last 16, Albiceleste coach Fernando Batista made personnel changes for their final group stage match against Korea Republic. That should mean fresher legs for Argentina, but the Eagles undoubtedly have the weapons to disrupt the South Americans’ possession game.

The games

Tuesday 4 June, local times

Round of 16
Japan-Korea Republic (Lublin, 17:30)
France-USA (Bydgoszcz, 17:30)
Argentina-Mali (Bielsko-Biala 20:30)

What you need to know

Korea Republic go into their match-up with something of an edge over Japan. The AFC U-19 Asian Championship runners-up are far and away the most successful nation on the continent at this level, with 12 titles in the age group to Japan’s one, which came in 2016.

Only two previous winners of the U-20 world title remain in contention, both of whom are in action on Tuesday: France, who lifted the trophy in 2013, and Argentina, who have won the competition a record six times. The two could face off in the final but will have to negotiate several hurdles first, starting with the Round of 16. “We’re expecting a tough challenge against a very athletic Mali team,” said Argentina boss Batista. “Their biggest strength is the pressure they put on the player in possession.”

Players to watch

Mickael Cuisance (France)
The midfielder, who has held down a place at Borussia Monchengladbach for the last two seasons, is a vital cog in Les Bleuets, especially with Boubakary Soumare sidelined due to injury. He has also excelled in attack during this tournament, coming up with two goals and an assist in three matches.

Tim Weah (USA)
George Weah’s son has scored one goal at the tournament so far, though it proved to be an important one for the USA. One of the breakout stars of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, he has since gone on to win eight caps for the senior team and score his first senior international goal. He brings plenty of speed and skill to the Stars and Stripes' line-up.

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