Argentina’s second Group A game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them once again fall short, this time losing to hosts South Korea and thus leaving their hopes of qualification hanging very much in the balance. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…
(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)
South Korea 2-1 Argentina
2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group A, 23 May 2017 (YouTube)
Claudio Úbeda’s men succumbed to their second consecutive defeat, as South Korea booked their place in the qualifying phase. The hosts took the lead after 18 minutes when, from the halfway line, Barcelona youngster Seung-Woo Lee brilliantly paced past an opponent or two before dinking the ball over the goalkeeper. Later on in the half, following a hoisted ball, Argentine goalkeeper Franco Petroli was adjudged to have clumsily impeded Young-Wook Cho inside the area. After a considerable delay owing to the collision, Seung-Ho Paik eventually stepped up in the 42nd minute to double his side’s lead.
Off the back of a half in which the South Americans struggled to get in behind their opponents, a couple of necessary changes were made at the break. One of these rapidly reaped dividends as striker Marcelo Torres pulled a goal back in the 50th minute, slotting home following a fine first-time pass from Santiago Colombatto. However, for the remainder of the game, though the boys in blue and white dominated possession, the opportunities they created were really either half-chances or moves which ended in penalty area skirmishes. Thus, they shall go into their final match against Guinea hoping not only for a win but that results in other games elsewhere in the competition go their way so that they can scrape one of the four berths allocated to the third-placed teams with the highest points totals.
For the most part, South Korea defended doggedly, ensuring that many bodies were behind the ball and rarely allowing themselves to be carved up. Thus, most of the better opportunities Argentina conjured up involved the last man in the attacking chain being lucky to have just a half-sight of goal as they were usually confronted by a swarm of opponents.
Thus, nobody could really be said to have had a memorable game. Nevertheless, Tomás Conechny (No. 10, San Lorenzo), who was rewarded with a start after showing glimpses of what he can do as a substitute against England, was certainly amongst the most eager to get things moving. Indeed, he was often over set-piece duties, with his deliveries causing some confusion and scrambling, though rarely could any of his team-mates ever get a solid head or foot on one of these. He also had a few half-chances of his own, for example flinging himself to get on the end of a cross in the 35th minute, though it was difficult for him to direct this bouncing header goalwards. Later in the 55th minute he twisted and turned inside the area, but it was never a propitious angle and his unthreatening effort went straight into the goalkeeper’s hands. The shot-stopper’s gloves were tested more in the 84th minute when Conechny struck from a central position outside the area with his left, causing a nervous parry after the ball deflected off a team-mate.
This fellow Pibe was Marcelo Torres (No. 7, Boca Juniors) who, in the 63rd minute had one of his side’s other minor chances. This arrived following some encouraging movement from Santiago Ascacibar (No. 5, Estudiantes de La Plata) on the edge of the crowded area, who then passed to Torres towards the inside-right, but his strike was low at the goalkeeper. However, the Boca Juniors man did make one rather more significant contribution to the game when, just five minutes after coming off the bench, he scored his side’s only goal after clinically sliding home a fine first-time pass.
The man responsible for this exquisite assist from near the halfway line was Santiago Colombatto (No. 15, Trapani, on loan from Cagliari), who also impressed against England. Arguably, he should have also scored at the end of the first half when Conechny jumped for a testing cross from the left with the goalkeeper, causing the ball to fall into Colombatto’s path but, whether it was due to the bounce or a lack of composure, he nevertheless struck wide of a partially unguarded goal.
Otherwise, one more chance half-worth noting arrived just before the goal when the other half-time substitute Brian Mansilla (No. 11, Racing Club) passed to Ezequiel Ponce (No. 18, Granada, on loan from Roma). From the edge of the area, the striker hit a low left footed effort not too far wide of the post.
Still, overall it was fairly slim pickings for a side that has several talented attack-minded players in their ranks, yet little consistency in the way of their organisation and first-choice personnel. As for the defence and goalkeeper, the less said the better. Ultimately, whether or not they somehow manage to squeeze through in three days’ time with Lautaro Martínez back from suspension, with such an unreliable set of individuals there currently appears to be little hope of them progressing far in this tournament.
In the other Group A game played today, England drew 1-1 with Guinea, who will be Argentina’s final group opponents on Friday 26 May 2017.
To keep up-to-date with the latest news on the South American nations at South Korea 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter and check back to Hispanospherical.com for match-by-match talent-tracking articles.