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 — Mali
Mali was not expected to do much offensively, as they had one of the worst offensive performances for a team that made the U-20 World Cup, but they managed to find their offensive touch. Granted, they have Mexico to thank as they had an epic meltdown, which saw two of their players receive red cards in just two minutes, so they played on with nine men.
Mali made the most of their chances as they scored two on the shorthanded Mexico squad (keep in mind Mali was down to 10 men and played 10 minutes shorthanded) to win 2-0. They are now the leaders of Group D, and have a great opportunity to set themselves up to advance if they can beat Serbia, who lost to Uruguay 1-0.
2) Biggest Loser — Mexico
Not only did Mexico lose the game 2-0 to Mali, but they also will not be with the services of forward Diego Gama and starting defenseman Óscar Bernal as they both received red cards and were sent off in their game with Mali. Mexico played a sluggish game and most had El Tri winning the match, but even though they played well those red cards were what did them in.
Soon after both Gama and Bernal were sent off, Mali scored two goals in two minutes to give them the advantage and Mexico was without answer, as they could not handle the Malian offensive pressure.
Now Mexico is really expected to perform and they do not have an easy task waiting for them. Uruguay, coming off their win against Serbia, is their next opponent and if Mexico doesn’t shape up, they will be out of the tournament by the second game and a lot of questions will be asked about this squad that was predicted to advance to the next round.
3) Standout Performer — Gastón Guruceaga, Uruguay
Day 2 had a multitude of great performers, but for sure goalkeeping performances stood out the most. Almost every keeper in Day 2’s matches stood on their heads and made fantastic saves, but none more than Uruguay’s Guruceaga. He was the x-factor today for his team as Serbia pushed forward and had great looks at the net, but the Uruguayan denied every single shot that was put in his path to keep the clean sheet and keep the one-goal advantage. He was unbeatable today and made many great saves. Take a look.
[h/t: Derek Tang]
4) Players Worth Staying Up to Watch in the Future:
Gastón Pereiro, Uruguay – The young Uruguayan came into this U-20 World Cup with some hype, as I picked him in players to watch in the Group D preview, and so far he has not disappointed. In the match, he scored the lone goal for Uruguay in their 1-0 win and I wouldn’t doubt that he wants to add to his tally going forward. Right now, he plays for the Uruguayan side Nacional, and if he keeps scoring in the club and national level, I can see other teams vying in the near future for the young man’s services.
Álvaro Montero, Colombia – The Colombian goalkeeper really impressed against Qatar, blocking all the shots the Middle Eastern team put in his way. Montero plays for Brazilian third division side São Caetano but if he continues playing as well as he is right now, he might get a call to play in Brazil’s first or second division teams. Or he might catch the interest of a team from his native Colombia to come back and play in his home country.
5) Best Tweet:
Sure, I'll watch some U-20 World Cup soccer. Initial impression: more seagulls than players.
— W. Knutt Megg Esq. (@MLSmuppet) May 30, 2015
6) Biggest Surprise — Portugal and Qatar
The biggest surprises were Portugal and Qatar, Portugal for how soundly they thrashed their Senegalese counterparts and Qatar for how well they played against a Colombian squad that most predicted would score more than just one goal.
Portugal got off to a great start, having scored in the first 30 seconds of the game, and from there they did not look back. Portugal kept getting chance, after chance; striking posts, getting denied by the Senegalese goalkeeper, and eventually scoring two more goals to win 3-0. It was surprising that the game was as lopsided as it was, but to be fair getting scored on in the first minute of the game does bruise your ego going forward with 89 minutes left to play.
Qatar came into their game against los Cafeteros a huge underdog and while they might have lost the game, they have some positives to take away from the match. Their defense looked solid only letting one by them with the goal by Joao Rodríguez and their offense was firing on all cylinders. Had it not been for the fantastic play of Colombian goalkeeper Álvaro Montero, Qatar could have scored two or three easily.
7) Best Goal — Nuno Santos, Portugal
8) Results of the Day (Groups C and D)
Colombia – 1 (J. Rodríguez 24′) Qatar – 0
Mexico – 0 Mali – 2 (A. Traore 77′, D. Gbakle 79′)
Portugal – 3 (G. Martins 1′, Andre Silva 90′, N. Santos 90’+2) Senegal – 0
Uruguay – 1 (G. Pereir0 56′) Serbia – 0