U-20 Football World Cup: What to expect in the quarterfinals

After a brutal round of 16, host Argentina, England, and underdog Gambia all bid farewell to the trophy race

The quarterfinals are set to start. Credit: Télam

The FIFA U-20 Football World Cup round of 16 matches ended up following a sports natural selection route if you will, where the better team on the field won in almost every instance. With some electrifying games that came down to the wire, it also left many shocking absences in its wake, setting up a new round that promises some exciting competition.  

With the exits of Argentina and Ecuador at the hands of Nigeria and South Korea, Uruguay, Brazil, and Colombia are the three remaining South American teams.

Argentina knocked out of U-20 World Cup. Credit: Télam
Argentina knocked out of U-20 World Cup. Credit: Télam

Starting today, here’s what the tournament has in store for everyone. 

Israel v Brazil

These two teams took very different roads to get here. Although it went through some struggles, almighty Brazil came in first of its group and blew right past Tunisia in the round of 16 with a 4-1 blowout in La Plata. On the other hand, saying that Israel had a bumpy ride would be an understatement. After a suspenseful wait to see if they made it to the direct elimination round, the Israeli squad pulled off a miraculous victory in the 97th minute against Uzbekistan. 

Brazil's U-20 Men's Football team. Credit: Lesley Ribeiro/CBF
Brazil’s U-20 Men’s Football team. Credit: Lesley Ribeiro/CBF

Assuming the “Canaries” will take this one with ease is a safe bet, but it would also be wise to expect a strong defensive scheme on Israel’s part to try and make it to the penalty spot definition stage, where both teams compete on more even ground. 

They’ll fight for a spot in the semifinals on Saturday at 2.30 pm in the Bicentennial Stadium in San Juan.

Colombia v Italy

Big time match alert for this clash of two heavyweight contenders. The highest level pairing in the quarterfinals as both teams had strong performances in the previous stages. Colombia was able to breeze through Group C undefeated and slammed Slovakia in the round of 16  with a monster 5-1.

In the opposing corner stands the Italian squad, who managed to qualify directly in the “death group” with Brazil and Nigeria, and came out on top in a 2-1 nail biter against England, and is ready for the next challenger. 

Italy's U-20 Men's National Football team. Credit: Twitter account @azzurri_en
Italy’s U-20 Men’s National Football team. Credit: @azzurri_en

Two great forces with different approaches will clash in this bout, where Italy’s style of direct attack and strong defense will measure up against Colombia’s free flowing movement and tiki-taka approach to the game. Expect it to be a non-stop exchange of blows kind of match, probably with few goals but loads of opportunities for both teams.

They’ll play in the same stadium as Brazil and Israel on Saturday at 6 pm in San Juan. 

United States v Uruguay

In this game, it’ll all come down to the player’s feet skills. Both the US and Uruguay have shown enormous physical prowess, the North Americans on the offensive end, the South Americans on the defensive.

The charrúas comfortably took second spot in their group stage and then eliminated tournament underdog Gambia, in a riddled match that could’ve gone either way. The “Eagles” have so far enjoyed a walk in the park, as they topped Group B winning all their games and blew New Zealand out of the water 4-0 in the round of 16. 

Uruguay faces a team that hasn’t received a single goal in the tournament, while the US will go up against their first big rival in the cup. As two squads that live by a “win big or go home” type of style, fans can expect a great match full of thrills that could   come down to the wire, where the player’s ball capacity will be decisive as exhaustion starts to set in. 

The World Cup  last semifinalist will come out of this game played on Sunday at 6 pm. in the Mother of Cities Stadium in Santiago del Estero.

Nigeria v South Korea

Both masters in the art of the upset, Nigeria and South Korea will search for a spot in the semifinals in the Mother of Cities Stadium in Santiago del Estero. Nigeria is the most ragged of the two, barely qualifying as one of the four “best third placed teams” and then knocking out Argentina  in the Round of 16, with a 2-0 victory thanks to their never ending hustle. The Asian squad, however, is still undefeated (although they went through a very rocky Group Stage) and completed a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Ecuador. 

The game won’t be much of a technical spectacle, but thrills are guaranteed due to both team’s fighting spirit and tenacity, as well as their bold play and strong defense.  

They’ll open the Sunday shift in Santiago del Estero at 2.30 pm.


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