The French Under-20 won the World Cup in Istanbul earlier this evening, as they defeated Uruguay 4-1 on penalties.
After a 0-0 game that ebbed and flowed but without any goals scored, France’s hero was goalkeeper Alphonse Areola who saved two spot-kick to give France their first ever FIFA U-20 World Cup.
With the grueling tournament now in the history books, plenty of fans across the globe will have been pleased with the action on display in Turkey, even though not many fans actually watch the games in person after incredibly poor attendance figures.
But that should take nothing away from France. Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, who was nurtured at Manchester United, pulled the strings in the final and looks to be a tremendous player with a bright future. United will rue letting him leave Old Trafford.
And plenty of other stars were born in a tournament that saw plenty of goals, late drama and extra-time heartache. The U.S. national team youngsters will take heart from their Group opponents winning the whole tournament, while Ghana who the USA also faced finished in third.
Anyway back to the final, and the game itself was played out in a nervous manner with France dominating early but Uruguay having the better of the first half. The French side dominated possession but couldn’t find a way through Uruguay’s stubborn defense and with La Celeste’s wayward shooting, extra time played out scoreless and the dreaded penalty shootout ensued.
In this day and age, surely we can come up with a better way to decide a game of soccer than the penalty shootout. For any game, in any cup, at any level it is a horrible thing to go through as a player, manager or fan. But this was the U-20 World Cup final!
Anyway, the French scored all four of their penalties and ‘keeper Areola was the man they all rushed to.
The big question now is this: Can France make a comeback on the international scene with all these promising youngsters?
It’s not that cut and dry. But a few of them will definitely be in the squad if the French national team make World Cup 2014. A talented core were all brought through the national team youth ranks when France won the World Cup back in 1998. David Trezeguet, Thierry Henry, Willy Sagnol and William Gallas were all around that squad and went on to become huge stars.
Can the French U-20 World Cup winning squad of 2013 help the French national team return to its glorious past?