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FIFA U-20 World Cup

Uruguay are FIFA U-20 World Champions

There is something that is still alive,” so says the song that the Uruguayan rock group No Te Va a Gustar (NTVG) wrote and sang for the Celeste shirt.

And this was what was confirmed after the “gurises”, the Uruguayan Under 20s, won the final of the FIFA youth tournament against Italy to win the  title for the first time.

Uruguay’s U-20 men’s team (Photo by Marcelo Singer “Bird’s Eye”)

These guys had played a great South American tournament and reached the final where they lost to Brazil. As vice-champions and with great enthusiasm, while avoiding the pressure of having to advance and being on the podium – as the Uruguayan fans always expect – they started the World Cup, winning by a landslide 4-0 victory against Iraq, which presented them with no difficulties.

Then England came, a very difficult match, but they approached it the same way. They played with a lot of dynamics, intensity and good collective expression, but they found a team that defended well, with great physicality, and that counterattacked, with great luck, and with the help of some Uruguayan defensive error, England, that attacked on three occasions, scored 3 goals to beat the Celestes 3-2.

They closed their performance in the group stage by beating Tunisia 1-0 and finishing 2nd in the group.

Uruguay men’s U-20 team  (photo by Marcelo Singer “Bird’s Eye”)

In the knockout round, first was Gambia, runner-up in Africa. Intense game that cost both teams an expulsion each. Uruguay won it 1-0. But they lost a lot in the expulsion of Luciano Rodríguez for an almost childish action typical of his age.

Then, the promoted U-20 team from the United States, who had been undefeated and with a clean sheet, fell to the Uruguayan team 2-0.

In the semifinals, the opponent to beat was Israel, UEFA vice-champions. The victory for Uruguay was 1-0. A very exhausting match, suffering, but giving everything, they managed to get to the final. With only 4 field players as substitutes since some members of the squad were left due to injuries. In addition to the expelled, this was the development of Uruguay’s performance in the six games prior to the grand finale.

On the big day, they faced Italy, who reached the final for the first time. For Uruguay, it was the third time, after losing to Argentina in 1997 and France in 2013.  It was confirmed that third time is the charm.

(Photo by Marcelo Singer “Bird’s Eye”)

The Uruguayan boys were superior. They generated 12 goal-scoring opportunities against two for Italy and with four minutes remaining they got the much-needed goal and tasted victory. Deserved and fair. It fell short in score, but ratified Uruguay’s great campaign.

This coronation gives credit to hundreds of children’s football coaches, mothers and fathers who every week and weekend take their boys to play football. There are 70,000 girls and boys who play, compete, want to win, learn to win and they seek glory.

Boys who very young reach the first division. That’s how young they go abroad, and they appear, they continue, nourishing that inexhaustible quarry that is and has been Uruguayan football. Something often inexplicable for a small country of 3.5 million inhabitants.

Luciano Rodriguez scored four minutes from time as Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 to win the Under-20 World Cup (Photo by Marcelo Singer “Bird’s Eye”)
The triumph is based on the work of a team of professionals, who put together a very solid, supportive, collaborative group, who fought against many adversities and even a complex, debatable expulsion that prevented a player of great conditions from being present in two key matches, but served his sanction and got to play the final. Fate reserved the magical moment for him and Luciano Rodriguez scored the goal that gave all his teammates and the people – who filled the Estadio de la Plata to cheer on Uruguay – the World Cup.

Credit: AIPS Media

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