CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 17: Marcos Guilherme of Brazil celebrates with his team mates after scoring a goal during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Semi Final match between Brazil and Senegal at Christchurch Stadium on June 17, 2015 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

U-20 World Cup Rewind – Semi-finals

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.

The 2015 edition of the U-20 World Cup is drawing to a close in that we now know who are the teams that are going to battle it out for the championship. Brazil and Serbia, after battling all tournament long, are going to Auckland for the deciding game of the U-20 World Cup. Also, on that same day, Senegal and Mali will play an all-African third-place match up in North Harbour Stadium. Let us recap how Brazil and Serbia got to the final.

Brazil 5 – Senegal 0

Brasil: Anda Correa (5′ OG), M. Guilherme (7′, 78′), Boschilia (19′), Jorge (35′)

Senegal: (none)

Brazil and Senegal were underdogs in their quarter-final match-ups, but nevertheless were face to face with a spot in the final at stake. Senegal knew they were in for a tough match-up as Brazil has won the tournament five times before.

An a formidable oppoenent Brazil proved to be as they got off to a quick start as an unfortunate carom off Anda Correa from a Brazil shot went past Senegalese keeper Ibou Sy for the 1-0 lead just five minutes in. Two minutes later some slick passing lead to a Marcos Guilherme goal to pad Brazil’s lead 2-0.

Some sloppy defending led to two more goals for Brazil before the end of the half, and in the 78th minute Guilherme scored his brace to see off Senegal 5-0.

A lackluster performance from the African squad, but the road they had to this stage was not an easy one and they must be commended on the way they played. However, they will have to settle for the consolation game this coming Saturday.

Serbia 2 – Mali 1 (aet)

Serbia: Zivkovic (4′), Saponjic (101′)

Mali: Y. Koné (39′)

Two Group D members met again as Serbia, in their first tournament as an independent nation, would look to try and replicate their victory in the group stages against Mali. However, Mali would not go down without a fight and took Serbia to extra time to decide the winner of this match.

Much like the other semi-final, this game got off to a quick start as a nice through ball found Zivkovic for the early 1-0 Serbia lead just four minutes into the game. Serbia had many more chances to add to their lead but the Malian defense was up for the challenge and kept their deficit at just one goal. Then in the 39th minute a rocket by Youssouf Koné from outside the box beat Serbian keeper Rajkovic, as the ball took a slight hop before getting to him, and the Mali squad managed to equalize 1-1.

The second half was filled with opportunities for both teams, Serbia hitting a rocket that would ricochet off the crossbar and Mali getting a great look that would be parried away by Rajkovic, but none would find their mark and extra time had to be played to decide this match. In the first half of extra time, Serbia benefited from a corner kick that was headed towards Ivan Saponjic who delivered a powerful header and scored Serbia’s second goal of the match.

Saponjic came in as a substitute in the 60th minute and would score what would be the deciding goal in this game. Mali continued battling for the rest of the 20 minutes left in the match, but in the end Saponjic’s goal was the nail in the coffin for Mali. The Malian squad, another underdog, was not expected to go this far and although it is sad to see their magical run come to an end, it is Serbia who will have the chance for a championship.

After a wonderful tournament, where teams have played their hearts out we now know the finalists who will put everything on the line for a chance at glory for their nations. It will be Brazil and Serbia, in what will be a spectacular matchup between two great teams that have battled to make it this far in the U-20 World Cup. Viewers in the States will have to stay up pretty late on Saturday to watch the final as it will be played at 1 AM Eastern Time, but it promises to be a thrilling matchup between two great teams.

Third Place Game

Friday, 9:30 PM ET Mali vs. Senegal

Championship Game

Saturday, 1:00 AM ET Serbia vs. Brazil


About Josh Espinal

I am a multimedia journalism graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso. Soccer is more than a passion for me, it's basically life. Follow me on twitter at @joshbruv and see me tweet about soccer in almost every language imaginable.