U20 2016 World Championships Papua New Guinea Quarters

Headline: Expected Outcome

All matches saw the favorites come through. But on very different ways. It was quite interesting:

The Japan dominance which was never in danger against Brazil. The see saw battle including extra time between North Korea and Spain. The sudden death of Mexico in the last ten minutes at the hands of the USA. And the only game that had the final result already standing after half of the first half was played between France and Germany though a lot of opportunities on both sides went missing afterwards.

Spain – North Korea DPR 2:3 a.e.t
And yups. Here we go again. Spain have cheaply wasted the much easier opportunity to reach the semis in their group match against Nigeria. They would have needed only a adequate composure there before – and not only after – they fell behind. So they got themselves this 50:50 quarterfinal-game against North Korea instead of Brazil – and out. More a lack professional management than of football skills.
This was the most 50:50 game of all quarters. So to say a mega 50:50. Because there have been several turns where the other team looked rather comfortably as the likely winner. First it was North Korea after they scored twice without any need to play around the Spanish defence – just wait and see Spain defend a corner nearly like not at all. And a set piece from the midfield area where the ball bounced above the defense like in a game of under 10yo beginners.
After early chances Spain in the meantime had their offensive play reduced to nearly nothing and didnt look like scoring at all. North Korea looked very comfortable in command of the game and much like the likely winner. But like so often out of nothing then Spain suddenly scored after a fine combination play through the North Korean defense. And that changed the picture. Now Spain got an injection of self believe and pressed North Korea back. Suddenly vice versa reducing their offense to nearly nothing. And after Spain equalised they looked very much in command and the likely winner now themselves.
But another turn of events saw North Korea instead increasing their influence on the game again and putting Spain more and more on the back foot. Finally they got through and there was no coming back from Spain anymore who seemed exhausted. We mentioned earlier they are pretty much a U19 and that might have played a role too. North Korea didnt make the fault to take the foot off the gas from then on and because of their clear advantage at the end they deserved the win.

Brazil – Japan 1:3
The Brazilian style isnt very suited to play Japan. Neither in offense where individuals who are technically strong but not very speedy and direct give Japan time to gather around them and taking finally the ball away by outnumbering them. Nor in defense where tactical discipline is needed to keep your lines closed for the passing style of Japan. That was just the forecast repeated. But Japan however have been showing again their problems to get into the opposite box. Too many matches there at the moment to have a look at this again but the Japanese problems are very eyecatching and it would be interesting to have a second look at what exactly is going wrong. Either they need players in the box who have the body power or the individual dribbling skills to beat defenders in a 1-on-1 situation in the box. Or they need to improve their way of passing the ball into the box. As they did in the second half. However – if that was really by improvements of Japan or the fact that Brazil were leaving a little bit more space after the 0:1 is what would be interesting to explore.

Mexico – USA 1:2
The USA are even more USPugh than we expected. We wanted to wait some more time after watching the first game. However now we can say that it is a little bit astonishing that the rest of the players couldnt show up more even until now. It is clear that in a large country at the age below 17 the organisation is difficult to oversee and lots of talents are still hidden and thus the U17s of the USA have not been very good so far compared to the older. But the U20 girls are all at display at college football. We can only assume there are difficulties making the right pick. Otherwise that would be very unlikely that from such a huge amount of available players which might be up to 100 times higher compared to some of the other participating nations there are not more to find.
We would have at least expected the USA to be able to beat Mexico without Pugh and without the chunk of good luck that they needed. But that and U17 Sanchez had to help out.
That shouldnt take anything away from Mexico though who fought a fantastic fight and showed why they were in the quarters. And they were the better team. But football is decided on goals and they missed their opportunities to seal the game. Still it is a good achievement to be amongst the last eight at a U20 tournament. And maybe it was also better to go out of the tournament on a high after this game than after a disappointing one against North Korea? This match should give them a lot of self confidence and motivation to push on.
But the main story of the game was again the Mallory Pugh story.
The girl had been incredible all the time. Probably never seen such a consistent way of a youngster ever. She could have made a lot of things wrong in the last 18 months or so. She never did much. And she never missed to put a good performance in. Uncredible at such an age. But this day she did for the very first time. Proving she is also only human.
Not a bad sign a lot of people have realised this kind of lack of focus when she missed some corner kicks. Close misses are possible when you want to take a risky shot approach to make a delivery more dangerous and dynamical. But it is another thing to send a ball straight away nearly 10m behind the goal line like she did.
Hopefully you read about why the NWSL final this year was so low level? We tried to describe some points of lack of quality there. Here you saw other and more obvious demonstrated by Pugh because she is an even better player who usually doesnt make such errors.
Right the first free kick from the right side already started horrible for her. Then there was a scene where she dribbled along the right wing and passed a ball in the middle despite she saw there was an opponent in the way of the pass to her teammate. But she had the pass in her mind when she started her dribbling and just wasnt able to change her focus and adapt and look for another solution. She played the impossible pass either way and the ball was lost. In the second half she nutmegged an opponent. But did it despite she realised the ball would go out for a corner kick for Mexico afterwards because the pass couldnt be reached by her teammate. She nevertheless played the nutmeg.
Another sign have been some harsh contacts with her opponents. She seemed just like being “too lazy” to avoid them like she can when she is on. But instead focussed on running into the opponent without hurting herself too much. Fantastic examples for coaches to see the difference demonstrated by such a good player.
And a lot of similar lacks of focus could be seen at the final this year.
But finally somehow like a kiss of fate she was presented with an opportunity to have a massive impact on the match again by not touching the ball. And at least in not touching the ball she was her usual self. Very interesting to see what will happen in he next game to draw conclusions what the reason was here.
Even stranger things happened however. What about the free kick goal for Mexico. I think the TV commentators got the same problem than me. What was that? How did that happen? Only the second view made clear what you couldnt understand from the first view. Your brain just didnt want to follow what the eyes saw at first. It might have been a genius innovation to defend a dangerous free kick and probably never seen ever before. Just put your wall so much wrong that your opponent is tempted to use the gap you offer them on the side by avoiding to overlap the corner by the bodies of the wall. Put your goalie in the other corner and wait for the opponent to shoot at the side you left intentionally open.
But probably that wrong wall wasnt on purpose.
However the goalie immediately after the shot started in the other corner to cover that. But the shot was so poor instead of placing the ball right in the free corner the gap was so big the ball went even in the middle of the goal passing the wall sideways. And the goalie on her way from to the corner just totally overran it. So the goalie ended at the other side of the goal while the ball went in the net in the middle of the goal. Hardly ever seen something like that.
And so this probably was the weakest quarter final match but nobody will ask that when the semis are played.

Germany – France 0:1
Another brilliant example of poor judgement in football on a lot of things by a lot of people going on. Germany as we mentioned did the trick. They “looked good” because they played a weak group despite having only their “second” team there. So we saw another example of “experts” using their expectations by names and former events instead of the display at hand. A pity however the “experts” didnt at least try to get themselves informed about that.
We now see that obviously Germany changed their philosophy and make the U20 strictly a pool of players who not yet reached the A-team. There are 3 U20 players instead in the roster for the senior team friendly at this weekend. We mentioned already the lot of others who are injured and the U17s who also show up stronger in the Bundesliga than the players here. But some people thought Germany are Germany and thus have to be always good not even getting that mainly this group of players didnt make it out of the group phase in the U19 EC in summer. But also as mentioned. Even the B-team is certainly not easy to beat. But no way as good as some might have thought after the group phase.
Still many might have got it wrong however how good this game was because it read France – Germany. But you saw it was poor nevertheless. Mainly because France didnt contribute much to a good game at all. Best example Karchaoui. A starter for the senior team at the Olympics. Contributions to a good game here. Ok, depends. We were happy to see some last second clearances in the own half to deny Germany. But never seen here contribute so few to the offense neither in Montpellier nor in the senior team. So seemed as if France also havent had a clue about what is going on despite being neighbours and having a chance to follow the Bundesliga. You already smelled their fears of the German team. So they played extremely defensive and that did nearly Germany help to advance. It was like we said the worst possible tactics that they didnt threaten the German defense enough to expose their weaknesses. Instead they played right into the hands of Germany. But they got lucky. Was there any shot during the 90 minutes where the German keeper had to do a lot? France even got chances without doing much up front but nearly all of them were very poor misses.
But if you are lucky one shot miraculously finds a way in the net that will miss the next 100 times it is tried. Even going deeper after that lead France allowed Germany the opportunity to create chances. But at least the goalie was absolutely spot on and saved them the victory. And at least they had the first day where their defenders didnt make some horrible faults but kept their focus to keep a clean sheet. So the better individuals but the worse team finally won.

Semi Final Preview:

France – Japan
Another performance from France against Germany that left the potential of the team widely unused might make Japan slight favorites? Especially if France do play again Hope Solos preferred style (cowardly). You could assume that. But might be the win against Germany has risen their confidence. And of course Japan are not that strong either. Little bit the same. Experts judging by name. Brazil played extremely into their cards. And Japan for this needed far too long to score. Spain could hold their offense as well easily. Then France can do the same. So it might also come to the same random and lucky outcome as the other games. Like Spain – Japan where a lucky handball decided. Or France – Germany where a lucky shot decided. The one situation could ot be on either side.

North Korea – USA
Still like from the first moment now closing in on the final: USA can win this because of PuSan (Pugh and Sanchez). However we now find it more likely that North Korea will crack down their defense and win. Though the USA knows there have always been games where the overwhelming better team can be denied. After the France game you thought France has a decent offense and USA can improve their defense. But neither was true. Frances offense proofed to be not that strong and the US defense could not yet improve. If North Korea keeps their standard and the USA can not find something special that will be most likely not enough to prevent conceding several goals. However. North Korea showed very different faces in the match against Spain.

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