Andrey Santos receives the South American Under-20 Champion trophy won by Brazil in Bogota on February 12, 2023
Soccer promises to scramble from Saturday at the Under-20 World Cup in Argentina, where the successor to Messi and Neymar is at a tournament that could be disrupted by the pandemic and an abrupt change of hosting country.
Twenty-four delegations changed their trip to Indonesia at the last minute due to a decision by FIFA, which removed the Southeast Asian country from its spot amid controversy over political and religious issues.
Without defending champions Ukraine, which did not qualify, 504 players will measure forces in the first men’s youth World Cup in 2020 since the health emergency began.
Benefiting from the change of venue, the locals will face favorites Brazil, Uruguay, England and France, with no new surprises from Africa in a championship marked by the absence of great figures under the age of 20.
– Pandemic and politics –
The journey of Argentina-2023 has been bumpy. With all teams already qualified, Indonesia objected to Israel, with which it has no diplomatic relations, playing the tournament.
A friend of the Palestinian cause and with a majority Muslim population, the former organizer forced FIFA with barely seven weeks to seek a new course before getting the ball rolling.
Earlier, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the Under-20 and Under-17 World Cups from 2020 and deprived generations of playing a global tournament for minors.
“Returning to these competitions helps players in that last stage of development,” before higher competition, Jorge Serna, who is Colombia’s under-17 coach until 2022, told AFP.
– Engine for Argentina –
FIFA penalized Indonesians and fully rewarded an Argentine for the Senior World Cup title in Qatar-2022. Four stadiums in San Juan, Santiago del Estero, Mendoza and La Plata, the venue for the final, are set to host 52 matches.
DT Javier Mascherano’s Albiseleste did not qualify for the World Cup after Indonesia’s collapse and joined as hosts.
At home, Argentina are eager to see the next Lionel Messi (U-20 champion in 2005) or Diego Maradona (who won the 1979 title) and remain the winningest nation in the competition (six times).
“It’s a good chance to do it in front of our public, in front of our people, we know it should be a driving force,” Mascherano admitted to TYC Sports.
– Preferred in unfavorable territory –
Brazil, champion of South America, chases its classic rival in history (5). This will be their first Under-20 World Cup since 2015 after their absence in 2017 and 2019.
La Verdemarela returned to the top of the field and would like to be king of the world in an adversarial field with figures such as Andrey of Vasco da Gama, and Marcos Leonardo of Santos.
Uruguay will feature rising stars in Luciano Rodríguez (Uruguay, Liverpool) and Facundo González (Valencia), while England look to strengthen their strength in this category with a base of European under-19 champions led by Chelsea’s Carny Chukwuemeka.
France will arrive in Argentina led by Monaco striker Malamine Efekele in comparison to Kylian Mbappé, the always promising youngster.
With one title in 2009 (Ghana) and three semi-finals since then, the African continent shares the top spot with Nigeria and Senegal. The current runners-up South Korea will have the main weapon in Asia.
– Absences and debuts –
In the midst of a war with Russia, the current Ukrainian monarch would not raise his flag due to poor results, which prevented him from qualifying. Neither are two-time champions Portugal (1989 and 1991) and Serbia (1987 and 2015), as well as Spain (title in 1999) and Germany (1981).
The Dominican Republic will take its baptism in a football World Cup.
– Club Vs. selection –
In the final days of the domestic league, the U-20 World Cup has thrown clubs into a dilemma: display their players in that showcase or rely on them to finish the season.
With the approval of FIFA, which does not force teams to release their players for this type of tournament, Manchester United prevented the signing of Argentine forward Alejandro Garnacho.
Uruguayan Álvaro Rodríguez (Real Madrid), Englishman Rico Lewis (Manchester City), Frenchman Mohamed Ali-Cho (Real Sociedad), and Brazilians Vitor Roque (Atletico Paranaense) and Andrić, also on loan from Real Madrid to Palmeiras, were left out of the squad.