Crunch time as France face Uruguay in final hurdle

Nearly three weeks after the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 got under way, the identity of the two finalists has finally been revealed as France face-off Uruguay in today’s final.
France's Paul Pogba and Uruguay's Lucna Digne. The pair face-off tonight in a thrilling final.  Net photo.
France's Paul Pogba and Uruguay's Lucna Digne. The pair face-off tonight in a thrilling final. Net photo.

Fifa U20 Final
Saturday
Play-off, 17.00
Ghana     vs.     Iraq
Final, 20.00
France     vs.     Uruguay

Nearly three weeks after the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 got under way, the identity of the two finalists has finally been revealed as France face-off Uruguay in today’s final.

France and Uruguay are the two sides who will face off at the Ali Sami Yan Arena in Istanbul on Saturday in a match-up that few would have predicted before the start of the competition.

While the French have always figured among the tournament favourites, the same cannot be said of the Uruguayans, who nevertheless boast more experience at this stage of the competition, having reached the final in 1997, when they needed extra time to get past Ghana.

In contrast, this weekend’s showpiece will be a whole new experience for Les Bleuets. On top of that, five members of Juan Verzeri’s Celeste squad also figured in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011.

France booked their place in the final after making their finishing count against a plucky Ghana side, while Uruguay came within three minutes of defeat in normal time before finally seeing off surprise packages Iraq on penalties.

France are perhaps the favourites of the tournament following Spain’s exit, but they have a trickier test to make the final than their most dangerous opponents Uruguay, being drawn against a tough Ghana team.

With their opponents having put Portugal to the sword, there will be plenty of warning for the French.

While both nations command a great deal of respect in the world game, neither were seen as favourites to reach this stage at the tournament’s outset.

Both had finished third in their respective continental qualifiers and were seen as being tough opposition, but outside the top tier of challengers.

Inconsistent group stage showings from both sides cemented this early perspective, but the pair kicked into gear as the tournament went on, showing flair and tenacity against some of the best sides at Turkey 2013.

France took a grip on the title of tournament top scorers, so far at least, with four-goal tallies against hosts Turkey and Uzbekistan, before seeing off a valiant Ghana side in the semis, with a mix of slick interplay and some quality finishing.

The golden boot-chasing Yaya Sanogo is no doubt grateful for the support he has received from Messrs Pogba, Kondogbia, Thauvin, Digne and Bahebeck in unlocking opposing defences.

Uruguay on the other hand have shown their battling qualities in the knockout stages, striking late against Nigeria, in extra-time versus Spain and taking Iraq to penalties after another last-gasp goal.

This hard-to-beat quality has been built on the spine of captain Gaston silva and the uncompromising sebastian Cristoforo, with the flair of Diego Laxalt and Giorgian De Arrascaeta providing a delectable counterpoint. While somewhat more unpredictable, and maybe slightly less fancied, than the French, Juan Verzeri’s side have what it takes to go head-to-head with anyone at this level.

Africa’s hope shattered

Africa’s hopes of reaching the final lay in Ghana but a 2-1 loss ended the only chance for  the Black Satellites to be in the final. A Florian Thauvin-inspired France battled their way beyond a valiant Ghana side to reach the Fifa U-20 World Cup final for the first time in their history.

Goals in either half from the hard-working midfielder saw Pierre Mankowski’s side beyond the Black Satellites, after Ebenezer Assifuah had drawn the African side level just after halftime, despite the Colombia 2011 semifinalists finishing with ten men after Samuel Umtiti was dismissed.

The Black Satellites take on Iraq in the play-off match which will be played earlier in the evening. Iraq lost to Uruguay 7-6 on penalties after a 1-all draw following two hours of action in Trabzon on Wednesday.

 

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