The Under-20 World Cup kicks off in Colombia on July 29th and runs until August 20th. This is the 18th edition of the event, which has seen only eight teams win it. There are 24 teams in the tournament from six different continents which are divided into six groups of four teams each. The teams play a round-robin within their group and the top two advances to the knockout round. However, the four best third-place teams will also advance.
It takes place every two years and Ghana is the reigning champion, having won it in 2009 in Egypt. Argentina has won it six times, with the last time being in 2007. Brazil has captured the trophy four times.
Argentina looks to be pretty strong again this year with players such as Erik Lamela, Juan Iturbe, Roberto Pereyra, and Facundo Ferreyra in their lineup.
Brazil will be missing star players Lucas and Neymar, but Philippe Coutinho, Casemiro, and Oscar will be playing. Spain and Portugal are also historically strong in the U-20 tournament, but South American nations have generally dominated it.
When watching and wagering on the games and the event itself, it’s a good idea to remember these are under 20 players, not the countries’ national teams. For example, just because Germany has a good senior squad, it doesn’t mean the U-20s are the same. In fact, you’ll notice Germany didn’t qualify for the event.
Group A – South Korea, Colombia, Mali, France,
Colombia will have the home crowd advantage here, but they’re not really a strong side. France seems to be the best of this bunch with Colombia fighting it out with South Korea for second place.
Group B – Cameroon, Portugal, Uruguay, New Zealand
It looks like Uruguay and Portugal are the two strongest teams in the group. However, New Zealand could do well and take a top-two position or advance as a third-place team.
Group C – Australia, Spain, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Ecuador and Spain appear to be the best two teams here, with Costa Rica and Australia fighting it out for the third spot. The Australian side is missing a few players and could struggle.
Group D – Croatia, Nigeria, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia
Croatia and Nigeria should go through to the next round and Croatia could go pretty far if they win the group and get a good matchup in the next round.
Group E – Austria, Brazil, Panama, Egypt
Brazil should win this group or come in second at worst. Egypt could also advance.
Group F – England, Argentina, North Korea, Mexico
This is basically the group of death in this tournament. Argentina and Mexico look like the strongest teams, but you never know which England side will show up. Will it be one with a lot of character and heart, or one that doesn’t compete hard enough? North Korea might surprise a few people too. Mexico just won the U-17 title, so they have added pressure to perform here. Argentina should go through with England or Mexico joining them.
Once the knockout stages begin anything can happen. But Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay look to be the best of the two dozen teams and one of these should hoist the trophy at the end of it all.
Sportsbook.com has the odds for the 24 teams to win the tournament as follows:
Korea Republic +2500
Saudi Arabia +8000
New Zealand +20000
Costa Rica +20000
These all seem pretty reasonable. However, It’s a bit surprising that the England is favoured over Croatia, Uruguay, and Mexico. But that seems to be par for the course these days as England always seems to get quite a bit of backing no matter how realistic their chances are. Also, Spain could be favored due to the success of the senior national team and not based on this squad’s skills and chances. I’d be surprised if they won this tournament. Realistic long to middle shots here would be Egypt, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia, and the two Korean nations.