Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FIFA U-20 World Cup: Gloriously Rooting for Laundry

Whoever said kids should be seen and not heard has not been watching the U-20 World Cup. Stand up and shout boys, this has been one hell of a tournament. Watching the semifinals this weekend was euphoric and anxiety-inducing, just like good football should be.

Where to begin? With Portugal's one-for-the-ages penalties win over Argentina? Or how about with France gagging away a 1-0 lead with 7 seconds left in added time, and almost doing it again in extra time? And what about Brazil and Spain in extra time?

I wish I knew more about the players; I felt like I was rooting for laundry at times. I was. I was also rooting for good and dramatic football, which was hard not to do.The skill level is pretty high, in fact about the only distinguishing factor here from "senior" football is the size of the players. Most of them are tall and skinny and haven't really hit the weight room much yet as their older counterparts -- just a guess on my part.

Tactically however, the games are fun and fascinating to watch. They're playing for so much and for a lot of them, this may be their only shot at international glory. Imagine, all four quarterfinal matches went to extra time and two of them to penalty kicks. The games were tight, but you couldn't help get caught up in the drama. I can't advocate more than for you to watch tomorrow's semifinals. Brazil-Mexico and France-Portugal should be epic. A Brazil-Portugal World Cup final is epic at any level; Mexico, should it make the final, continues to make its case as a huge threat for the 2014 and 2018 World Cup (remember, Mexico won the U17 World Cup a few weeks back). France? Well, yeah, OK. Anyway.

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