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 — Panama’s chances to advance out of group stage
Argentina came in to this U-20 World Cup as massive favorites to win this tournament, but Panama wasn’t going to let them walk over them. It led the CONCACAF side to get a massive point in the Group B opener.
With a point out of easily the most difficult match in the group for Panama, it should only take their first-ever win at a U-20 World Cup to make it out of the group stage. It was a wholly impressive effort, from outstanding goalkeeping by Jaime De Garcia to a resilience most wouldn’t have against a world giant like Argentina.
Instead of folding, Panama found a way to answer each lead that Argentina took within five minutes. That’s how you show you belong in a tournament like this, and if that effort is sustained don’t be surprised to see a deep run through this tournament.
2) Biggest Loser — Finishing
The Ukraine vs. New Zealand match may have single-handily set forward lay and the game of soccer back a few decades. Overall, the two teams combined for 24 shots, but only four of them ended up on target. That is just awful, especially considering the number of wide open chances created by both sides. It also doesn’t do justice to the number of opportunities that never even ended up in shots at all either.
Just how bad did it get? New Zealand entered the final 10 minutes of the match without a single registered shot on goal. It didn’t change until the 85th minute either, and the frantic final minutes made New Zealand’s total shots triple.
Let’s just hope this isn’t a sign of things to come all over this tournament.
3) Standout Performer — Angel Correa, Argentina
Correa probably couldn’t have dreamt up a better debut match at this tournament for himself. He scored a brace, with each of his goals putting Argentina in the lead. If only his teammates could’ve come along for the ride.
On the day he had a brace, scoring in the 14th and 79th minutes respectively. However, Correa also had four total shots and about eight or nine more dangerous chances that just were escape jobs by Panama’s defense. His goals were pure class as well.
[h/t: Anthony DiCicco vine]
[h/t: Derek Tang]
4) Players Worth Staying Up to Watch in the Future:
Sam Brotherton, New Zealand — The All-Whites defender is just 18 years old and heading to the University of Wisconsin this fall, but he looked every part of a poised and veteran defender against Ukraine. He’s worth at least setting your DVR’s for at a bare minimum. Somehow this kid is heading to college and not overseas as a professional.
Angel Correa, Argentina — Heading in to this World Cup, Correa was thought to be the player to watch most this tournament. On his debut at the U-20 World Cup, Correa didn’t disappoint. He scored a brace for his side and had at least a half-dozen more dangerous opportunities. If there is one player that is “can’t miss” in this tournament, Correa is it. He already has seen plenty of attention at the club level, but if he keeps this pace up…boy could Atletico Madrid be sitting on a gem.
5) Best Tweet
— Vangelis Vitalis (@VangelisVNZ) May 30, 2015
6) Biggest Surprise — Myanmar
While the Southeast Asian outfit were the only losers on the day, they made a good account of themselves in attack. In a group that features no real standouts outside of the United States, play like in match 1 the rest of the group stage and there is a chance they pull out at least one win.
Overall I was impressed with the effort this side put forth. Don’t be surprised if they catch Ukraine or New Zealand off guard with their pace in attack.
7) Best Goal — Jhamal Rodriguez, Panama