The FIFA U20 World Cup has begun in Argentina, with Europe’s finest young footballers taking on teams worldwide. The tournament is being held in four cities in Argentina from May 20 to June 11, coinciding with the country’s celebration of Lionel Messi and the national team’s triumph in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Europe got a strong start as Slovakia secured a 4-0 victory against Fiji on Saturday. Italy and Israel are set to play against Brazil and Colombia, respectively, on Sunday evening, while France and England will begin their campaigns on Monday against South Korea and Tunisia.
Argentina stepped in as the host nation at the last minute, relieving FIFA, after protests in Indonesia prevented the hosting of the Israel team, resulting in a late switch of nations.
Defending champions Ukraine are not participating in this year’s U20 World Cup, making England the favourites from Europe. England previously won the U20 title in 2017 and will bring victorious players to the 2022 U19 European Championship.
Notable additions to the English squad include Chelsea midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka, Bristol City’s Alex Scott, Manchester City’s Liam Delap, and Liverpool’s promising centre-back Jarell Quansah.
Clubs had to grant permission for their contracted players to participate in the Under-20 World Cup, so many talented European footballers will not be taking part due to restrictions.
Despite some limitations, Italy, facing tough opponents Brazil in Group D, will have the services of Empoli’s attacking midfielder Tommaso Baldanzi and Cittadella’s Giuseppe Ambrosino.
France is expected to emerge as the favourites from Group F and has talented players like centre-back Tanguy Zoukrou and forward Alan Virginus.
Slovakia, led by Cagliari’s towering 193cm striker Adam Griger, is placed in Group B. At the same time, Israel, making their tournament debut, will compete against Colombia, Japan, and Senegal in Group C. Israel, coached by Ofir Haim, features promising talents such as El Yam Kancepolsky and Ilay Madmon, and narrowly missed out to England in the European championships.
European teams have won the last four editions of the U20 World Cup, and this year marks the 23rd staging of the tournament, which has served as a crucial platform for renowned footballers such as Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Paul Pogba at the early stages of their careers.