U-20 World Cup Rewind – Day 8

With the 2015 U-20 World Cup taking place at crazy hours here in the United States, we at 32 Flags are happy to be your guide to all that is the U-20 World Cup. Consider this series a refresher course on all that took place while you were likely asleep. You’re welcome.

1) Biggest Winner – The Teams Who Advance to the Round of 16 (Serbia, Portugal, Colombia, Mali, Uruguay, and probably Senegal)

Serbia won one of the most evenly matched group in this competition. Today’s match was, in effect, a knockout game, and Serbia clearly treated it as such. They came out firing and playing with intensity. Mexico had a handful of chances in the box, but every Mexican shot found a Serbian defender closing down. Truly immense defending in blocked shots and headed clearances.

Portugal did what Portugal does. Colombia was their strongest competition yet, and the game was never in doubt for a second. Portugal’s goal difference in the group stages was +9 with only 1 goal allowed, this against three solid teams. Definitely a tournament favorite.

Senegal may also advance out of these clubs. The only way Senegal fails to advance is if Nigeria wins or draws and Fiji wins their match against Germany. Call us crazy, but this doesn’t seem too likely.

2) Biggest Loser – Mexico

Disappointment and frustration. The first half was incredibly frustrating from a Mexico point of view. Nothing is particularly bad about this team other than inconsistency and discipline. Both midfield and defense fail to hold the ball, lose concentration, and give away silly fouls. The first goal was a remarkable silly lack of concentration, the second the result of a silly foul. The attack shows no creativity. The ball gets in the attacking third and Mexican attackers just stand around in the box. This club needed a spark of creativity, stronger coaching, and… well they needed a lot.

With Mexico’s early exit, this must mean the Mexican Football Federation is worried. This U-20 squad never showed the killer instinct the senior squad shows, which is really problematic. Further, Mexico’s early exist also leaves America as the sole representative of CONCACAF left in the tournament.

3) Standout Performer – Sergej Milinkovic, Serbia

In a game that meant life or death, Milinkovic did everything Serbia could ask for out of the young midfielder. Currently, Milinkovic plays for Genk in Belgium and is on the cusp of breaking into the senior Serbia men’s team. Keep an eye on this guy. He’s 6’3″ and absolutely bossed the Mexico game. Look for him to be dominating the midfield in a larger European league soon, and look for him to play a big role in Serbia’s build to Russia 2018.

Also, to be honest, today’s true standout performer was André Silva… but we felt that other players in this tournament deserve some of the attention.

4) Players Worth Staying Up to Watch in the Future:

For your daily André Silva, we give you this ridiculous header. This kid is already a star. I mean, look at this goal.

5) Best Tweet: 

6) Biggest Surprise – Mali

Not only did Mali earn the draw against a (supposedly) superior Uruguayan squad, Mali should have won. The African side dominated the attack in this game as evidenced by the shots statistic: Mali’s 15 to Uruguay’s 2 (although the clubs were even when counting on-target shots at 2 to 2). In short: Cheer for Mali, it’s the economy of friendship.

7) Best Goal – That Serbian Free Kick That Crushed Mexican Spirit

8) Results of the Day (Groups C and D)

Colombia 1 (Borré 74′) – Portugal 3 (Santos 3′, Silva 55′, 67′)

Qatar 1 (Afif 17′) – Senegel 2 (Sylla 76′, Koné 81)

Serbia 2 (Maksimovic 2′, Zivkovic 43′) – Mexico 0

Mali 1 (A. Traore 44′) – Uruguay 1 (F. Acosta 17′)

NOTE: Mali and Uruguay finish the group in a complete tie. As of now, it appears they will draw lots to decide who finished 2nd and who finished 3rd.

About Josh Howard

Josh Howard is a PhD Candidate in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University where he writes about empathy, museums, and visitor studies. He is also a massive DC United fan and serves as a co-editor for ussporthistory.com. For more, check out jhowardhistory.com.