Tag Archives: South American Youth Football

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador (Group F, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 28 May 2017)

Ecuador’s third and final Group F game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup ended in a disappointing stalemate which has eliminated them from the competition. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…

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(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador

2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group F, 28 May 2017 (YouTube)

In a game low on opportunities, Javier Rodríguez’s men were unable to find a way past their Senegalese opponents and will now be on an early flight back home.

The match was hardly blessed with talking points as, with their own qualification hopes always at the forefront of their minds, the Africans were somewhat wary of committing themselves wholeheartedly to forward forays.

That said, Senegal – who were to finish with ten men following a late red card in stoppage-time – did actually break the deadlock ten minutes in the second half – or so they thought. However, following some consultation amongst the officials, it was adjudged that the ball hovering on the goal-line had been kicked out of at least one – if not both – of goalkeeper José Cevallos’ hands and thus this stabbed effort was ruled out.

Although Ecuador showed some intent in the game, aside from a Joao Rojas shot that could well have bypassed the goalkeeper had it a little more direction, they were similarly unable to create many clear sights of goal. Thus, despite such a promising start to the tournament, they bow out, with their three Group F rivals instead progressing.

Talent Tracking

ecuadorflag Ecuador

As with Uruguay’s 0-0 draw yesterday, mercy shall be shown on the reader – not to mention oneself – by not spending undue time ruminating on this performance. Indeed, Ecuador needed a win but, despite having a fair few attackers at their disposal capable of causing problems, Senegal will surely consider this a relatively solid defensive display from their rearguard.

Having been a substitute in the opening two games, Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec) was granted a start here. He was one of his side’s more conspicuous attackers and had their best chance, a 79th-minute right-footed effort from the edge of the area, which the goalkeeper did well to get down to parry. Otherwise, he also had a low shot early on following a fine pass from deep by Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) – who, in turn, was to show some quick bursts of pace – though this was saved with a greater degree of comfort.

The pickings were indeed rather slim for Ecuador, with their other attempts barely worth mentioning, but here goes: In the 48th minute, Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta) fired a low left-footed cross into the area which hit the goalkeeper’s gloves before being cleared. Three minutes later, the man this evaded in the centre, Herlin Lino (No. 9, Deportivo Cuenca), won some space for himself on the inside-right, but his shot was dealt with relatively easily. Much later on at the death, substitute Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica del Ecuador) hit a shot that elicited an even greater amount of gratitute from the man with the gloves.

Given the clean sheet, the goalkeeper, some of the defence and the two holding midfielders may deserve some credit. However, due to the circumstances which meant that their opponents were somewhat hesitant at times to get forward, it would perhaps be best not to over-egg this particular aspect of the Ecuadorian performance.

Thus, though they certainly have some talented players in their rank, who will be disappointed not to have qualified from the group stage after such a sensational start to the tournament which saw them 2-0 up against the USA in 7 minutes, Ecuador have succumbed at the first hurdle.

In the other Group F game played today, USA and Saudi Arabia drew 1-1, a result which saw both teams progress (along with Senegal) and also dashed Argentina’s hopes of scraping through as one of the four best third-placed teams. Thus, it is left to Uruguay and Venezuela to carry the torch for CONMEBOL in the knock-out stage.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

 

Uruguay 0-0 South Africa (Group F, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 27 May 2017)

Uruguay’s third and final Group D game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them uncomfortably draw 0-0 with a decent South Africa side. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…

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(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)

Uruguay 0-0 South Africa

2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group D, 27 May 2017 (YouTube)

A somewhat lacklustre stalemate was enough for Uruguay to confirm themselves as winners of Group D.

At kick-off, South Africa were already virtually eliminated – that, is barring a high win plus some favourable results elsewhere – but Fabián Coito’s men struggled to assert their supposed superiority. Indeed, though they had a chance or two in the first half it was a largely quiet affair and, soon after the break, their opponents were to look the more likely to score. Luther Singh, in particular, stood out, hitting the crossbar with his right boot from a deep position on the left before having another effort from the same area tipped over soon afterwards. South Africa had other chances to score though, in the latter stages, so did the South Americans, with Nicolás Schiappacasse notably guilty of some eyebrow-raising misses.

Nevertheless, upon the final whistle, the Uruguayans were officialy proclaimed as winners of Group D and, irrespective of today’s performance, will go into the knock-out stage as one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

Talent Tracking

uruguayflag Uruguay

Perhaps it is best not to expend too much thought on this outing, given that Coito’s men were certainly not charging around in top gear. This was possibly owing to the strains of the tightly scheduled group stage as well as the knowledge of their qualification having already been accomplished.

Some changes from the side that beat Japan 2-0 were made, including Matías Viña (No. 17, Nacional) coming in for club team-mate Agustín Rogel (No. 18, Nacional) at centre-back. It is unlikely that this alteration was the sole cause but, despite impressively keeping a third consecutive clean sheet, the back four were to have more than a few hairy moments in this game, conceding space as well as several opportunities.

That said, the right-back, José Luis Rodríguez (No. 4, Danubio), did nevertheless maintain his propensity for admirable attacking play when, in the 36th minute, he supplied Uruguay’s best chance of the first half, knocking in a sublime curled ball from the right.

However, the man whose head this greeted, Nicolás Schiappacasse (No. 9, Atlético Madrid Under-19s), was unable to direct his effort goalwards, as he attempted to nod around the onrushing goalkeeper but instead watched the ball trickle wide. This was to be the first of a few opportunities that the 19-year-old was to squander. The second came in the 74th minute when he bypassed a player in the centre, had a clear sight of goal, yet whacked his shot slightly over. Several minutes later, he was similarly guilty when, following a corner, he ran into a promising position to have a free header in the centre, yet ended up putting his effort wide.

He will not wish to recall this game in a hurry and, for the Uruguayan attack as a whole, it was a far from memorable encounter, with their only other attempt of note being a strike from Agustín Canobbio (No. 19, Fénix) which, from an angle, went across goal and wide.

Still, with seven points, they progress as table-toppers and will regroup for their second round encounter, which shall be played on Wednesday 31 May 2017 against as-yet-unknown opponents. Following the conclusion of the group stage tomorrow, they shall know who precisely shall be next on their gauntlet.

In the other Group D game played today, Italy and Japan drew 2-2 and will both qualify along with Uruguay.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Guinea 0-5 Argentina (Group A, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 26 May 2017)

Argentina’s third and final Group A game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them inflict a heavy defeat upon the now-eliminated Guinea, though they will need to wait before discovering whether this was enough to progress. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…

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(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group A, 26 May 2017 (YouTube)

Argentina at last found their shooting boots as they routed their African opponents in a game they needed to win by a large margin in order to boost their hopes of advancing out of their group.

With the strongest line-up Claudio Úbeda has fielded thus far in the tournament, Los Pibes dominated proceedings from the off and, following some close shaves, finally got off the mark in the 33rd minute when Marcelo Torres tapped home Santiago Colombatto’s low cross. Ten minutes later, it was 2-0 as Lautaro Martínez announced his return in sensational fashion, turning from the edge of the area to fire a belting strike into the top corner.

Five minutes after the restart, Federico Zaracho made it three, heading in Brian Mansilla’s cross from the left. The following goal on 74 minutes also required a bonce, this time that of Marcos Senesi, who powerfully nodded home a free-kick from Exequiel Palacios. Subsequently, the spanking was capped off five minutes later when Martínez notched his second after Tomás Conechny played a disguised quick free-kick to him and he rapidly struck home into the opposite corner.

Thus, Argentina finally got their tournament underway but, with four other groups yet to be decided, will this prove to be too late for them to salvage one of the four best third-placed team berths?

Talent Tracking

argentinaflag Argentina

Well, well, Claudio Úbeda finally selects in the line-up all four of the most eye-catching attackers from the qualifiers and quelle surprise, they admonish a beating.

He had Lautaro Martínez (No. 9, Racing Club) back from suspension and the widely-touted striker certainly made up for lost time. The first of his two strikes was a goal of the tournament contender which came as he received a pass on the edge of the area, took a touch, then rapidly turned to smash an unstoppable effort into the top right-hand corner. Before this, he had looked alert from the off, playing a role in the first goal for which he dummied over the ball in the centre; overall, he was also to have a few other shots of his own. One of these was the second goal, a rather neat set-piece move which he was attentive to, as he latched onto a short ball that surprised the unsuspecting defence; he thus quickly turned to blast a solid strike into the corner. If, as this writer suspects, Argentina are to scrape through to the next round, they really can’t do without their star man.

The man who played this free-kick pass – which drew comparisons to the exquisite Verón-Zanetti move against England at World Cup ’98 – was Tomás Conechny (No. 10, San Lorenzo), a man who, if he hasn’t finally convinced his manager that he deserves to start every single game, then something has gone awry. Indeed, he always appears to have bundles of energy and intent, regularly looking to either make things happen or force an opponent into an error. As well as his assist, early on in the first half he also combined a few times with Santiago Colombatto (No. 15, Trapani, on loan from Cagliari) – the one revelation from this campaign who wasn’t also part of the qualifying phase – such as when the former found the head of the latter from a corner which the Serie B man then flicked on at the near post, causing a hesitant clearance from the goalmouth.

Their most notable link-up, however, was on the opening goal when Conechny fed a pass to the left inside the area which found Colombatto who, in turn, hit a low ball across the goal which Martínez intelligently evaded, leaving Marcelo Torres (No. 7, Boca Juniors) to fire home for his second tournament goal. Previously, Torres was also not far off scoring on at least two occasions earlier in the match. First of all, when Martínez’s shot was parried and the Boca man nearly got to the rebound, as well as not long afterwards when he headed a cross against the underside of the crossbar, which was then put in by a mixture of his boot and Colombatto’s head. However, the play had already been called back for offside – not that this whistle could prevent Colombatto from requiring bandaging following the contact made by Torres’ boot.

Torres, like Martínez, also scored five goals in qualifying and it was encouraging to see the pair both on the scoresheet, as the experiment with Ezequiel Ponce (No. 18, Granada, on loan from Roma) – who came on here for the last 23 minutes – had fallen somewhat short in the two previous matches.

The fourth and final top attacker from qualifying who was granted a start here – having, in his case, had to settle for cameos from the bench in the last two encounters – was Brian Mansilla (No. 11, Racing Club). Here, he went some way towards getting himself into Úbeda’s future line-up plans as he crossed in from the left for club team-mate Federico Zaracho (No. 19, Racing Club) to head home for the third.

The other goal, the fourth, came from a free-kick by Exequiel Palacios (No. 8, River Plate) who dinked in a good ball for centre-back Marcos Senesi (No. 6, River Plate) to head home with force.

Regarding the action at the other end, there wasn’t a great deal for Argentina to be concerned about. Certainly, Guinea had a few attempts, particularly in the latter stages when the South Americans had the game well in the bag, but there was nothing Úbeda will be losing sleep over any time soon. That said, though it is difficult to say off the back of just this one performance, it was good that he made some changes at the back, namely playing a back three and dropping the woeful full-backs Gonzalo Montiel (No. 4, River Plate) and, especially, Milton Valenzuela (No. 3, Newell’s Old Boys).

Time will tell whether these changes will be maintained and reap future dividends. Or will it? After all, though the Argentines went some way to improving their goal difference, we still won’t know until Sunday whether or not they have qualified for the knock-out stage. The permutations are too innumerable to go into here but those who wish to contemplate every last one of them can do so here.

In the other Group A game played today, England beat hosts South Korea 1-0 and thus, with the Three Lions having topped the table, both nations shall participate in the next round.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela (Group B, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 26 May 2017)

Venezuela’s third and final Group B game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them defeat Mexico and thus qualify for the knock-out stage with an unblemished record of three wins and just as many clean sheets. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…

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(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group B, 26 May 2017 (YouTube)

A solitary goal was all that was needed for the already-qualified Venezuela to see off Mexico, who will also be joining them in the next phase.

Perhaps it was due to their promising pre-game positions combined with the toll of playing three matches in seven days, but overall there was less intent on offer from either side, with clear chances far and few between. Indeed, though they both had some shots to contend with, neither goalkeeper was greatly troubled for the majority of the encounter. Nevertheless, the Mexican rearguard only needed to be breached once and this occurred in the 33rd minute. Here, the impressive Adalberto Peñaranda dinked a central ball into the area for Sergio Córdova, who showed impressive composure to round the goalkeeper and deceive a defender on the line with his finish.

Following the final whistle, with an enviable collection of results to bolster their confidence, this remarkable generation of Venezuelans will now surely believe that anything is impossible.

Talent Tracking

venezuelaflag Venezuela

After a difficult season loaned out yet largely unwanted in both Serie A and La Liga, Adalberto Peñaranda (No. 7, Málaga, on loan from Watford) seems to have regained some much-needed mojo. In this game his main contribution was the fine ball he played forward from 30 yards out for the goal, though he also received considerable social media acclaim for a piece of elite showboating in the early stages of the second half. To the naysayers who have used this truncated instance of fancy dannery to lambast him for having “no end product”: not only does he now have a goal and three assists to his name in this tournament but, following his trickery, his nudged ball to Ronaldo Peña (No. 9, Las Palmas Atlético) – who later saw a well-struck 30-yard strike parried – led to the latter winning a corner off the goalkeeper. Yours truly is failing to restrain himself from adding “So there”.

Such is his importance to this side that, for the third consecutive game, manager Rafael Dudamel brought him off early to conserve some energy. He was later joined on the bench with his team’s other attacking star of the group stage, Sergio Córdova (No. 19, Caracas FC). However, whilst the right-sided forward appeared to depart with some discomfort, judging by his upbeat expression from the sidelines, it can’t be too serious. In this match, he regained his place as the tournament’s outright topscorer when he masterfully controlled Peñaranda’s pass, before holding off a defender, delicately rounding the goalkeeper and then, rather suavely, fooling another opponent on the line who had to watch on in agony as the rolling ball passed him by. Soon afterwards, Córdova had a shot parried from the edge of the area and, providing the knock was nothing too troubling, he should have more than a few future opportunities like this to help him increase his tally of four goals in three games.

Otherwise, though they had a few mild scares, Venezuela largely impressed by keeping another clean sheet. The back four as well as the two holding mifielders, Yangel Herrera (No. 8, New York City FC, on loan from Manchester City) and Ronaldo Lucena (No. 16, Zamora FC) did their respective jobs with a minimum of fuss. From an attacking perspective, Herrera was also involved in two forward moments of note. First, in the 28th minute, he did well to run into the area and then slide the ball across to Yeferson Soteldo (No. 10, Huachipato, Chile), though the ex-Zamora man hit it from a slightly awkward position with his less fancied right boot and thus had to watch the ball go wide of the mark. Much later on in the 71st minute, Herrera actually had a rather good chance to score himself when Lucena dinked a fine free-kick into the area yet, unmarked from barely ten yards out, the MLS starlet headed the ball much too close to the goalkeeper.

Never mind. He can be comforted by the knowledge that his side’s record speaks for itself and, with the performances they have been putting in, it does currently feel as if few other teams will relish having to play them in the remainder of this tournament. Though their opponents in the Round of 16 are yet unknown, what can be said for sure is that the game will take place on Tuesday 30 May 2017. Should they emerge victorious from this encounter, they will surpass the accomplishment of the class of 2009 and well and truly write themselves into their nation’s ever more-storied footballing history.

In the other Group B game played today, Vanuatu were defeated 3-2 by Germany, yet the third-placed Europeans will have to wait for the time being to see if they will be joining Venezuela and Mexico in the latter stages.

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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Ecuador 1-2 Saudi Arabia (Group F, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 25 May 2017)

Ecuador’s second Group F game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them come a cropper against a well-organised Saudi Arabia side. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…

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(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)

Ecuador 1-2 Saudi Arabia

2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group F, 25 May 2017 (YouTube)

Following on from being forced to settle for a point against the USA, Javier Rodríguez’s young chaps were unable to regain any momentum against Saudi Arabia, leaving their qualification hopes on the brink.

Their Middle Eastern opponents took the lead after 7 minutes when Ayman Al Khulaif impressively waltzed past an opponent on his inside-right before sliding to Abdulrahman Al Yami who clinically struck home inside the area. Subsequently, aside from Pervis Estupiñán hitting the post in the 27th minute, Ecuador struggled to create many clear opportunities in the first half; that is, until they were afforded a chance to level things up at the very end when a soft penalty was awarded. However, their topscorer Bryan Cabezas – who had been a rare bright spark over on the left flank – failed to convert, instead seeing his spot-kick parried out.

Into the second half, the Saudis initially looked relatively comfortable though La Mini Tri did gradually make more inroads, causing much concern in the area and even hitting the crossbar. However, somewhat against the run of the play, it was not they who notched the game’s second goal but instead Al Yami, who once again combined with Al Khulaif to double his tally, making it 2-0 in the 84th minute. Just before the end of regulation time, Ecuador managed to get a goal back, courtesy of a back post tap-in from substitute Jordy Caicedo. Ultimately, however, they fell short and will probably need a win in their final game if they are to sneak into the next round.

Talent Tracking

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Once again, left-back Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain) demonstrated that he is probably better suited to a position further upfield. Indeed, in the 27th minute he was unlucky not to score when he struck a loose ball with the inside of his trusty left boot, hitting the post. However, the restating of this assessment is less due to his forward exploits but more his defensive shortcomings. On the first goal, he was easily bypassed by Al Khulaif who then set-up Al Yami and on the second, he was well out of position, having to huff back in vain as Al Khulaif ran down his flank, crossing low for Al Yami to double the scoreline. This area of the pitch is a liability for the attack-minded South Americans and it will surely be targeted by Senegal in the decisive encounter on Sunday.

Moving onto to those who were actually designated from the off in positions further upfield, even if their opponents sometimes looked good value for their lead, Ecuador’s attackers did manage to conjure up a fair few chances. Indeed, though nobody put  in a vintage performance, in the first half at least, Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta) impressed out on the left wing, beating defenders and firing balls into the area. However, after failing from the spot just before the whistle for the break, his influence – and perhaps, his confidence – decreased.

Herlin Lino (No. 9, Deportivo Cuenca) had his moments in both halves. In the first period, it was he who bombed down the left before cutting back and watching on as Estupiñán struck the post. He was also the man who won Cabezas’ penalty – having also been fouled for three spot-kicks in qualifying, this appears to be quite a curious asset to his game. In the second half, he was often in and around the box, notably having a header tipped against the crossbar after muscularly latching onto a 78th-minute cross from Angelo Preciado (No. 2, Independiente del Valle). Barely a minute later, he possibly could have done better when his close-range rebound was parried by the goalkeeper.

This came after substitute Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec) – who impressed in spells, adding some much needed focus to attacks – played a pinpoint ball into the area which fellow sub Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica del Ecuador) controlled well before having his effort saved from a sudden one-on-one position. Caicedo, of course, got on the scoresheet 11 minutes later when he tapped in a low cross from Preciado, following good work from Rojas, Lino and others on the periphery of the area. Earlier on, just three minutes after coming off the bench in the 63rd minute, Caicedo also had another opportunity when he just about reached a through ball, though the goalkeeper did well to stick out a leg and block from barely a yard or two away.

Ecuador had a few other lesser opportunities yet, though they provided further evidence that they are not short of talented attackers, they lacked the killer touch. Still, all is not lost just yet and so, hopefully for their own sake, they will be able to regroup, entering their last game hell-bent on gaining three much-needed points.

In the other Group F game played today, USA defeated Senegal 1-0, who will be Ecuador’s final group opponents on Sunday 28 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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Uruguay 2-0 Japan (Group D, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 24 May 2017)

Uruguay’s second Group D game of the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup saw them defeat a tricky Japan side. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the match and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-tracking…

GroupD2

(Source: Wikipedia – Check here for all other results, fixtures and standings)

Uruguay 2-0 Japan

2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Group D, 24 May 2017 (YouTube)

Fabián Coito’s men faced a stern test in the form of a talented Japan team, but ultimately survived some second-half scares to confirm their place in the knock-out stages. The opening period was not short of intent with the game being played at a good tempo, though the number of clear chances was not particularly high. Indeed, the Asians’ most threatening early moments occurred via crosses that caused some mild discomfort in the area, but the Uruguayan goalkeeper Santiago Mele was not significantly troubled. For their part, the South Americans got forward on occasion and should have opened the scoring after 10 minutes, but Nicolás De La Cruz squandered a golden one-on-one opportunity. Nevertheless, with what was virtually their first shot on target towards the end of the half, they found a goal. This was a fine sequence of play as centre-back Santiago Bueno hoisted a ball upfield which José Luis Rodríguez exquisitely controlled before passing to Nicolás Schiappacasse who found space from a defender and then clinically struck into the back of the net.

After the interval, however, the Japanese saw more of the ball and should probably have scored in the 58th minute when Takefusa Kubo’s shot was parried only to Ritsu Doan, yet despite the goal gaping, the latter somehow directed his header at Mele. It must be noted that the 15-year-old prodigy Kubo put in a precociously eye-catching performance as he dribbled and threaded through some other decent balls. Definitely one to keep tabs on.

Nevertheless, though Japan spent most of the second half on the prowl for an equaliser, it was Uruguay who bagged the second goal of the game. This came towards the very end when Marcelo Saracchi slipped the ball through for Mathías Olivera to strike underneath the goalkeeper, sealing both a win for Uruguay as well as their place in the Round of 16.

Talent Tracking

uruguayflag Uruguay

Overall, in this well-contested game, most credit must surely go to the defensive organisation of the side. Indeed, although there were a couple of lapses in the second half, with one fortunate not to have resulted in a goal, on the whole, courtesy of some tight marking and well-drilled tracking, they greatly limited the number of clear chances conceded. Though he was largely well-protected by those in front of him, goalkeeper Santiago Mele (No. 1, Fénix) certainly had reason to be cheerful at the whistle, having made at least a few important stops in the second half.

Furthermore, building on their impressive showings against Italy, centre-back Santiago Bueno (No. 2, Barcelona Juvenil A) and right-back José Luis Rodríguez (No. 4, Danubio) again came away with some credit and actually both combined on the first goal. Indeed, the former hoisted a pinpoint upfield ball which the latter did brilliantly to tame before nudging to striker Nicolás Schiappacasse (No. 9, Atlético Madrid Under-19s). He, in turn, proved himself to be a class act, evading a defender and then striking home.

Regarding the rest of the back four, Bueno’s centre-back partner Agustín Rogel (No. 18, Nacional) again did well, contributing to another clean sheet and the left-back Mathías Olivera (No. 5, Club Atlético Atenas) even managed to get on the scoresheet. Indeed, he doubled the lead at the death when, from an inside-left position, substitute Marcelo Saracchi (No. 6, Danubio) played him through to slide a ball past the goalkeeper, who should probably feel disappointed to have conceded.

Otherwise, the likes of Federico Valverde (No. 16, Real Madrid Castilla) and Rodrigo Bentancur (No. 20, Boca Juniors, transferring to Juventus in July) did well, shielding the defenders and thwarting the progress of many central Japanese attacks. From an attacking perspective, Valverde also delivered a couple of decent free-kicks towards the end of the first half whereas, just after the break, Bentancur played a delightful defence-splitting through-ball to Agustín Canobbio (No. 19, Fénix). However, despite the recipient being in a very promising position, before he could put the ball into the net, the referee called play back. Much later on towards the end, Canobbio actually had another chance – this time completely legal. Here, he received a ball from substitute Joaquín Ardaiz (No. 7, Danubio) yet he was to be denied by the goalkeeper who, had he not tipped the shot over, would have seen the rising ball bulge the roof of his net.

Lastly, Uruguay’s other chance of note was the gilt-edged 10th minute miss from Nicolás De La Cruz (No. 11, Liverpool, Uruguay). The captain robbed a dithering defender yet, despite being one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he somehow screwed his shot wide of the target. So far in this tournament he has failed to convert two glaring opportunities (this following on from a saved penalty against Italy) and his confidence must have taken a further battering when he was substituted off after 80 minutes.

Nevertheless, he and his colleagues are now already through to the knock-out stages, so he will hopefully have enough time to rectify his mis-steps and show a global audience why he is touted as one of the most promising players in the entire competition.

In the other Group D game played today, Italy won 2-0 against South Africa, who will be Uruguay’s final group opponents on Saturday 27 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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

 

South Korea 2-1 Argentina (Group A, 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, 23 May 2017)

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, @DarrenSphericals armchair talent-tracking…

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(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.

Talent Tracking

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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.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical