All but one of the eight teams in Groups C and D at the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 will have their calculators at the ready for what promises to be a nailbiting final afternoon in both sections.
With all four teams in Group D tied on three points and three sides vying for the right to join Portugal in advancing from Group C, the permutations are endless ahead of Saturday’s four matches in the two pools, games that will decide who goes through to the Round of 16.
Match of the day
*Colombia-Portugal, Dunedin, 6 June 2015, 13.00 local time
*Despite being the only match on the card in which one side is already through to the knockout phase, this meeting between two attack-minded sides with designs on going far in the competition promises to be an entertaining one. The Portuguese, who base their game on speed and width, have a formidable attacking quartet in Rony Lopez, Gelson Martins, Ivo and Andre Santos, one that has been causing opposing defences all sorts of problems so far, as a record of seven goals scored without reply suggests.
Comfortable on the ball and content to bide their time, Los Cafeteros have nevertheless been struggling to create opportunities, having found the back of the net just twice to date, with one of those goals coming from the penalty spot. The Colombians should see plenty of possession against a side that will be content to sit back and which needs only a draw to go through as group winners.
The other matches*
Senegal’s hopes of taking second place in Group C depend on them beating Qatar and Portugal seeing off the Colombians by a sufficient number of goals. After their electrifying first half against *Los Cafeteros, the Africans will confident of doing what they need to do. The Qataris, meanwhile, need to win to be in with a chance of going through as one of the best third-placed teams. Having looked blunt up front in their opening two matches, they will look to star midfielder Ahmad Moein for some much-needed inspiration.
Anything can happen in Group D, where all four sides are tied on three points and only two goals separate top from bottom. Given Mali’s powerful performance in defeating Mexico, Uruguay can expect a demanding afternoon when they take on the Africans in Hamilton.
El Tri’s last-gasp defeat of the Uruguayans gave them a timely boost ahead of their showdown with Serbia, with further good news coming with the return of Diego Gama and Oscar Bernal following their suspensions. The eastern Europeans were no less buoyed by their win over Mali, their first U-20 World Cup victory in 28 years. Sergej Milinkovic’s set-piece skills could prove decisive in Dunedin.
Player to watch
Gaston Guruceaga (Uruguay)
La Celeste will once again need goalkeeper **Gaston Guruceaga, one of their biggest assets, to be at his very best when they take on the Malians. Guruceagahas a save percentage of 77.8, among the top four in the competition. The star of Uruguay’s narrow defeat of Serbia, the young custodian also did his utmost to keep his side in the game against Mexico.
23 - the number of goals Portugal have scored in their last eight FIFA U-20 World Cup matches, an average of 2.87 per game.
The words“Portugal have a lot of ability and they’re a very good side on both an individual and collective level. We can’t just go out and settle for what we’ve got, though. That’s dangerous. You can’t do that at a World Cup. I want us to be ambitious and to up our game,” Carlos Restrepo, Colombia coach.
Match schedule*Group C
*Senegal-Qatar (Hamilton, Waikato Stadium, 13.00)
Colombia-Portugal (Dunedin, Otago Stadium, 13.00)
*Serbia-Mexico (Dunedin, Otago Stadium, 16.00)
Mali-Uruguay (Hamilton, Waikato Stadium, 16.00)
All times local