Argentina is eyeing their seventh title at the FIFA U20 World Cup 2023 after FIFA officially named them the new host nation.
Argentina has replaced Indonesia to stage the tournament after FIFA stripped the South East Asia nation’s hosting rights. However, the date does remain unchanged, from May 20 to June 11. It means they only have less than a month to prepare.
The South American side is currently the record holder at the U20 World Cup. They have won the title six times. Argentina snatched the first in 1979, with Diego Maradona and Ramon Diaz as the protagonists. Yet, they had to wait for more than 15 years for the second one, which was clinched in 1995. Such marked their golden era as La Albiceleste lifted the trophy four more times in 1997, 2001, 2005 and most recently in 2007. The likes of Juan Roman Riquelme, Lionel Scaloni, Javier Saviola, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and of course, Lionel Messi were the key figures in such triumphant years.
Unfortunately, their form has regressed since then. They have not been able to get past the quarterfinal since. Their last campaign in Poland 2019 ended in the round of 16. Thus, winning the seventh title would be the ultimate redemption for them.
The Argentinian Football Association has begun their preparation for the international flagship U20 competition, including setting up the four venues in accordance with FIFA’s standard, and bracing the squad.
Argentina Aims for their Seventh Title in World Cup U20 2023
Four venues have been selected by FIFA to hold the tournament. The AFA previously had proposed seven stadiums. Surprisingly, the Grand Monumental River Plate and La Bambonera were not included on the list due to their tight schedule. Here are the four chosen stadiums:
- Estadio Unico Diego Maradona, La Plata. The home of Estudiantes and Gimnasia La Plata, it can hold 53,000 people. The stadium was used to stage six games in the 2011 Copa America, including the opener, Argentina vs Bolivia. This venue will host two semifinals, the third place playoff and the final.
- Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades, Santiago del Estero. The stadium with the capacity of 30,000 people has never been used for any major tournament.
- Estadio Malvinas Argentina, Cordoba. It is one of the oldest stadiums in the country with the capacity of 42,000 spectators. It was one of the host venues in World Cup 1978.
- Estadio Bicentenario, San Juan. The homebase of Godoy Cruz can hold over 25,000 fans but has never been used to stage any international games.
The Future Argentine Stars
La Albiceleste is eager to call up their young stars who are currently competing in Europe. The majority of them did not receive permission from their clubs to take part in the U20 South America Championship last January, which in part led to their failure to secure the spot in the final round. Hopefully, the table will turn next month despite the fact that most European leagues are yet completed. Here are some of Argentina’s promising stars.
- Alejandro Garnacho. The Manchester United youngster has done well this season. The 18-year old winger has contributed five goals and six assists in 31 matches. Unfortunately, Garnacho is still injured at the moment and likely to miss the competition.
- Luka Romero. Another promising winger, Romero has netted one goal in 12 games this season. He is currently playing for Lazio.
- Maximo Perrone. The 20-year old defensive midfielder has just made two appearances this season for Manchester City.
- Nico Paz. He is one of the few players in Europe who managed to join the team in the qualifiers earlier this year. The 18-year old central midfielder is now playing for Real Madrid U19.
- Valentin Carboni. The 18-year old versatile attacking midfielder has made six appearances for Inter Milan this season.
- Franco Carboni. Valentin’s brother is featuring on the left flank as a wing back. He is currently on loan to Serie B side, Cagliari, since January after going down the pecking order in Monza.
- Tiago Geralnik. The versatile midfielder is playing for Villarreal B this season, with 12 appearances so far. He could be deployed on both wings.
- Mathias Soule. Another versatile midfielder who has been more fortunate than his counterparts in Italian Serie A. The 20-year old Juventus man has registered one goal and one assist in 24 games this season.
- Facundo Buonanotte. He was one of the few players who joined the squad in the qualifier but then suffered an injury. The 18-year old Brighton attacking midfielder has only played five matches for the Premier League outfit and made one assist so far.
The Draw Result and Dates
Here is the result of the draw, which took place on April 21 in Zürich:
Group A: Argentina, Uzbekistan, Guatemala, New Zealand
Group B: USA, Ecuador, Fiji, Slovakia
Group C: Senegal, Japan, Israel, Colombia
Group D: Italy, Brazil, Nigeria, Dominika Rep
Group E:Uruguay, Iraq, Tunisia, England
Group F: France, South Korea, Gambia, Honduras
Here are the dates for each tournament’s stage:
Preliminary Round: May 20-28.
Round of 16: May 30 – June 1
Quarterfinals: June 3-4
Semifinals & Final: June 8 & Jun 11.
Will Argentina U20 under Javier Mascherano’s tutelage follow their senior’s footstep and enjoy their seventh glory on their home soil just like in 2001? Or, will the disappointment of recent performances linger on? Only time will tell which side lady luck will smile later this month month.