U-20 World Cup: Title headed to new hands after France-Uruguay final

Yaya Sanogo of France (C) celebrates his goal with teammates during the FIFA Under-20 World Cup 2013 group match at Türk Telecom Arena in İstanbul on June 21. (Photos: AP)
The 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup will draw to a close with a brand new world champion following a match between finalists France and Uruguay in İstanbul on Saturday.
Neither country has won the competition before. Uruguay's best showing was a second-place at Malaysia 1997, while the Frenchmen managed fourth in Colombia 2011. Both will be out in full force to make history for their homelands.
Uruguay shocked spectators by knocking powerful Spain out of the competition in the quarterfinals. Besides being an eternal favorite in FIFA competitions, the Spanish are, as of yet, the only team to beat France in this year's tournament. France lost to Spain 2-1 in the group stage, but has not looked back since.
The French came back with a vengeance, pummeling host Turkey 4-1 in the round of 16 and Uzbekistan 4-0 in the quarterfinals. Champion of Egypt 2009, Ghana, managed to stall the European side's rampage to a mere 2-1 in the semis.

(Uruguay’s Felipe Avenatti (R) celebrates with teammate Nicolas Lopez after scoring during extra time of the Under-20 World Cup quarterfinal against Spain in Bursa.)

Goals to glory

Their insatiable hunger for the net has earned the Frenchmen a position as the top scoring team so far with 15 goals. Only Ghana can reasonably challenge this achievement with its 13 goals. Everyone else is either out of the competition or much too far behind.
Uruguay has made it to the finals on just 10 goals, led by Italian side Roma's attacking prodigy Nicolas Lopez. With four goals, the forward is drawn even with France's top scorer, Yaya Sanogo, who plays for the English Premier League club Arsenal. In addition to the U-20 title, both have their eyes on the Golden Boot award. The three players ahead of them, Portugal's Bruma, Spain's Jese and Ghana's Ebenezer Assifuah, have each found the net five times. Only Assifuah, who will play for third place, has a chance to earn more.
Like the French, the Uruguayans have lost just one match, starting off their Turkey 2013 campaign with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Croatia. La Celeste, as Uruguay is affectionately known, did not bounce back as intensely as the French, but the team did pound Uzbekistan 4-0. After Felipe Avenatti sank a winning ball into Spain's net in the 103rd minute at the quarterfinals, the unlikely Uruguayans met Iraq.

Close competition

Iraq fought hard, and a 1-1 draw went into a shootout, which La Celeste won 7-6. It was the first time in 28 years that a semifinal match went to a shootout in the U-20 World Cup. Indeed, the competition has been closer than ever this year. Iraq's previous match against Korea Republic also went into penalties, as did Colombia and Korea's match in round two. Three more matches were decided in extra time.
The final promises to be a thrilling climax to a tournament marked by upsets and close calls. France is the clear favorite, but Uruguay has knocked even bigger teams around. The match, which will add a new country to the list of U-20 champs, will kick off at 9.00 p.m. at İstanbul's Türk Telekom Arena.
Also on Saturday, the tournament's upset-specialist Iraq goes head to head with 2009 champion Ghana in a match for third place. The Iraqis were never expected to make it past round one, but they have proven their staying power. The match for third starts at 6.00 p.m. at the same arena.


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