The FIFA U20 World Cup
is underway, with Poland playing host to some of the greatest young footballers on the planet. The tournament, which is held every two years, displays some of the most exciting on-pitch action from the stars of tomorrow.
Some of the biggest stars in the football world have first made their name at the FIFA U20 World Cup, including Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. Diego Maradona was the star of the tournament in 1979, Ronaldinho of Brazil emerged in 1999 and more recently, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba was the leading figure as France lifted the trophy in Turkey in 2013.
As the action gets underway in Poland, here’s everything you need to know about the FIFA U20 World Cup.
Image source: espn.com
The history of the tournament
The U20 World Cup takes place every two years and is hosted in countries all around the world. Tunisia hosted the first ever tournament in 1977 where it was known as the FIFA World Youth Championship until 2005 where it became formally known as the FIFA U20 World Cup.
Argentina has achieved the greatest success in the tournament, winning the title on six different occasions, followed by Brazil who have lifted the trophy five times.
Unlike the men’s World Cup where there are a handful of favourites who are tipped to win the tournament, the youth edition can (and has) been won by ‘smaller’ countries like Ghana, Russia and Serbia, with teams like Venezuela, Nigeria and the Czech Republic all making appearances in the final.
A new champion will be crowned
Following a hard-fought 1-0 victory over a determined Venezuelan side in 2017, England lifted their first ever FIFA U20 World Cup trophy, and appeared eager to defend their title at the 2019 edition of the tournament.
Unfortunately for the Three Lions, it was not meant to be. After struggling in the European U-19 Championship in Finland in 2018, England were forced into a qualification play-off against a strong Norwegian side.
The match looked to be headed for a goalless draw and seemed destined for extra time and penalties, but in the 75th
minute, Norway took the lead before Eman Markovic netted the second and Jens Petter Hauge put the final nail in the coffin.
This means that we’ll see a new champion crowned this year. Although France are seen as the favourites, the tournament has shown on more than one occasion that any side could claim the title.
Image source: scoutedftbl.com
France go into the tournament as favourites to walk away with all the spoils, slightly ahead of European neighbours, Portugal, and South American rivals, Argentina. While it might be risky to call them as Outright winners, one thing is for certain, with Mali, Panama and Saudi Arabia in their group, France should at the very least progress to the Round of 16.
Although they have won the tournament six times, Argentina’s last triumph came all the way back in 1997. With their main rivals, Brazil, failing to qualify for this year’s edition of the tournament, this could be the year for the Argentinians to end their drought.
Portugal are possibly the most underrated favourites for the competition. Having lost just one of their last 10 matches, and as the defending U19 European Champions, they’ll be quietly confident that they can cause a few upsets in the competition, including winning the entire thing.
The dark horses
Image source: ussoccer.com
As we’ve seen in the past, the favourites don’t always come out on top in the FIFA U20 World Cup. There are a couple of teams who have the ability to cause an upset or two in the tournament, and who, if things go their way, could see themselves competing in the final.
As hosts, Poland will be extremely comfortable taking the field in this year’s tournament. Playing in front of home crowds might be all it takes for them to win the tournament.
Italy and the United States will feel disappointed that they haven’t been mentioned among the favourites, but their form in past tournaments has shown that while they will always be competitive, they haven’t really posed a serious threat to some of the major teams. This year seems different to others, both sides have been on a rich run of form in the lead up to the tournament and will feel like they could go deep into the competition.
The FIFA U20 World Cup is underway and you can bet on all the action with Betway. Whether you want to place Match Result bet
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