With the FIFA Under-20 World Cup set to kick off later today and inside the host nation Turkey, the anticipation has hit the clouds with a whole field of top-quality youth football ready to be unleashed.
This is the nineteenth edition of the tournament, which will be hosted in the seven cities of Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Kayseri, Rize and Trabzon with matches beginning today until the final on the 13th July. This guarantees to be a great competition with reigning champions Brazil and record tournament winners Argentina both absent, former victors Spain, Portugal and Ghana have been tagged as favourites. However, there are several other strong sides, including France, Nigeria, South American champions Colombia, as well as Mexico, the winners of the Under-17 World Cup on home turf two years ago.
For the next 23 days, 24 of the world’s best youth teams will hold football fans under their spell in the biggest tournament ever to be held in Turkey.
Here at WorldFootballWeekly.com we will provide a daily update to all games but read on as Will Burns looks at three players who could make the biggest impact over the next three and an half weeks.
JUAN FERNANDO QUINTERO – COLOMBIA
A left-footed playmaker that plied his trade last year on loan in Serie A to Pescara, and it is heavily rumoured that he will not be at parent club Atletico Nacional for much longer. The short but speedy Quintero, has already been linked with a move away from the Liga Postobon, and as of late, the hot rumour being a transfer to the Premier League champions Manchester United.
It’s not hard to see why one of the world’s best clubs is interested in the 5ft 6 Colombian. As mentioned, a very quick player who always looks for the gap between the midfield and forward lines. He is seen as an attacking midfielder (a No.10) and the main controller of play in this strong Colombian side, which recently won the South American Under-20 championship. You may see him occasionally dropping back deep into the midfield or drift out to the flanks with the intention to create.
Quintero’s awareness is frightening, his instinct once the ball has arrived at his feet is to feed the strikers, and he instantly looks for that killer ball to split open the oppositions defence. If ‘that’ ball is not looking likely, his aim becomes to lay off to ball to a team-mate until the next opportunity arises. His instinct to defend is not as strong unfortunately, although his stamina will allow him to press the enemy back into their own half the entire game.
When in control of the ball, he is technically strong and will look to free up space as the ball seems glued to his feet, and is also well-known for his power shooting from distance. Regarding the long-range shooting, he is a massive threat from a dead ball. With that glorious left-foot his set-pieces can be deadly. Quintero has the facility to test the goalkeeper’s gloves from anywhere within 30-yards of the goal. He gained a reputation for his dead-ball expertise for Nacional and while borrowed to Pescara last season.
Watch out for this guy providing the assists for Los Cafeteros in Group C while facing hosts Turkey, El Salvador and Australia.
JESE RODRIGUEZ – SPAIN
The Real Madrid winger will be Spain’s main threat up top, and his hunger for goals should be fed in this tournament by the emerging creative forces of La Roja. Jese and Barca’s Gerard Deulofeu will especially link up well but the skilful Castilla man doesn’t need chances put on a plate for him. The top scorer in last year UEFA Under-19 tournament, he also broke a nineteen-year old record by scoring 22 goals for Castilla in Segunda División last season. That record was held by club and country legend Emilio Butragueno, you can see why previous Real boss Jose Mourinho held this young hitman up highly.
It is common knowledge that Real have struggled to compete the ever production of new talent of rivals Barcelona in recent years, but young Jese could be about to help balance things up. The expectations are indeed high and Jese has been linked with moves away from the capital already. Top clubs over Europe said to be watching his progress, but the impressive winger is content to challenge for his place in La Liga.
Quick and agile, he is predominantly a wide-man. Constantly choosing to run at players and his close control make him a real danger when attacking an opponent’s box. Full of tricks and with some slight arrogance, it is easy to see why he has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo by the Spanish press.
JESÚS MANUEL CORONA – MEXICO
This young winger suffered a frustrating time in his homeland with Monterrey, unable to force himself into the starting line-up in a team packed with experienced internationals. Corona’s opportunity came during last year’s Club World Championships, where his team picked up a respectable third position. Chilean international striker Humberto Suazo found himself injured before the trip to Japan, so Monterrey coach Victor Manuel Vucetich handed the youngster the chance.
Vucetich’s decision was not a bad one as Corona notched two goals in four appearances and was rightly named Man-of-the-Match in a semi-final defeat to Chelsea. Corona showed in the tournament that he is perfect example of a pacy winger with a tremendous dribbling ability to torment full-backs down either flank. The defenders of Mali, Paraguay and Greece in Group D must not take this tricky dribbler lightly.
Defenders in the tournament will be the only people watching this Mexican closely. Scouts from around the world may want to check him out since he becomes a free agent on July 1st after rejecting the latest contract offer from Monterrey last month.
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