Saturday, July 07, 2007

U20 World Cup

We're into the final round of group games, so I thought it was time to get caught up. Groups D and E have already finished; the final games in Groups B and F are today, while Groups A and C finish tomorrow. Even for the teams who've wrapped up play, though, their fate hasn't necessarily been decided, because of the format of the tournament: the top two teams from each group will move on to the round of 16, along with the four best third-place teams.

Group A
Chile (6; W2, D0, L0)
Austria (4; W1, D1, L0)
Congo (1; W0, D1, L0)
Canada (0; W0, D0, L2)

Chile sit on top of the group after 3-0 wins over both Canada and Congo. Austria, in second place, drew with Congo and then squeaked out a narrow win against Canada. The final round of games will be Chile v. Austria and Canada v. Congo. Congo could finish in second place with a win against Canada, while the Canadians desperately need a win to keep their hopes alive.

The Canadians' performance has been really disappointing, unfortunately. I didn't see the game against Chile, and the Chileans are obviously a good team, but I still expected a slightly better result after watching them against Argentina back in May. I did see the Austria match, and it was just not good. I didn't think the Austrians really outplayed them (as you can tell by the scoreline: 1-0, with the only goal coming from a set-piece), but Canada never looked likely to score. They only managed one shot on target over the whole game, with Simeon Jackson missing a sitter in injury time. That's going to have to change if they have any chance of beating Congo. Watching on Thursday, it looked like their more technically skilled players, like Jaime Peters on the wing, were getting shut down to easily, and either didn't have players to support them or couldn't pass accurately when they did. I'd be tempted to bring Andrea Lombardo back into the lineup on Sunday, get him to hold the ball up and bring his teammates into the play. Route one football may not be pretty, but when they played that way against Argentina, it was at least more effective.

Group B
Spain (4; W1, D1, L0)
Uruguay (4; W1, D1, L0)
Zambia (1; W0, D1, L1)
Jordan (1; W0, D1, L1)

Spain faces Jordan while Uruguay take on Zambia in the final group games. Spain and Uruguay, who drew against each other in their opening game, both need only another point to be sure of advancing, while the other two teams need a win to have any chance of moving on.

Group C
Mexico (6; W2, D0, L0)
Portugal (3, W1, D0, L1)
Gambia (3; W1, D0, L1)
New Zealand (0; W0, D0, L2)

Mexico v. Portugal was expected to be the key game in this group, and the Mexicans took the honours -- and assured themselves a spot in the round of 16 -- with a 2-1 win on Thursday night. Portugal will play Gambia tomorrow to see who takes second place in the group, but both teams probably have a good chance of moving on. New Zealand will just be hoping to come away from their match against Mexico with dignity intact.

Group D
USA (7; W2, D1, L0)
Poland (4; W1, D1, L1)
Brazil (3; W1, D0, L2)
Korea Republic (2; W0, D2, L1)

The big surprise here is the USA at the top of the group, and Brazil down in third place, after the Americans beat them 2-1 yesterday. The USA started slowly with a draw against Korea Republic (that's South Korea, to save you looking it up), but followed that up by trouncing Poland 6-1. Poland beat Brazil and drew with the Koreans to book their place in the next round. But Brazil still have a chance to qualify too, depending on how the results shake out in the other groups.

Group E
Argentina (7; W2, D1, L0)
Czech Republic (5; W1, D2, L0)
Korea DPR (2; W0, D2, L1)
Panama (1; W0, D1, L2)

Argentina top the group, and they've looked like the class of the tournament so far, despite starting with a scoreless draw against the Czech Republic. They won their next two games, including a 6-0 spanking of Panama, while the Czechs also beat the hapless Panama to assure their spot in the next round. Korea DPR still technically have a chance to qualify, but it doesn't look likely.

Group F
Japan (6; W2, D0, L0)
Nigeria (6; W2, D0, L0)
Costa Rica (0; W0, D0, L2)
Scotland (0; W0, D0, L2)

Japan and Nigeria face off to decide first place in the group, both having already beaten Costa Rica and Scotland and qualify for the knockout stages. Those two teams have yet to earn a point, but either one could have a chance of advancing if they can beat the other today.


linda said...

The poor Kiwis. Ah well, learning experience for the young players. Who knows, maybe we'll make a World Cup again the next 20 attempts.

A lot of Argentina supporters aren't too pleased with how the team played against Korea DPR. I haven't seen the game, so I can't comment, but the gist is that they're tactically too defensive.

Jen said...

Yeah, I feel bad for the Kiwis, but it's not really a surprise. They've got a pretty good chance at being back in two years' time, though, because I think Oceania automatically gets a spot at the U20 tournament.

I haven't actually seen Argentina play yet; the CBC doesn't seem to want to put their games on the main network. Bah.