As the curtain draws on FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 today, there is one last piece of important business for both France and Uruguay to take care of before heading for home.
Having played six games each of the tournament’s 51 prior to the final in Istanbul, the pair’s quest to claim their first-ever FIFA U-20 title is just one step away from completion.
While both nations command a great deal of respectin the world game, neither were seen as favourites to reach this stage at the tournament’s outset. Both had finished third in their respective continental qualifiers and were seen as being tough opposition, but outside the top tier of challengers.
Inconsistent group stage showings from both sides cemented this early perspective, but the pair kicked into gear as the tournament went on, showing flair and tenacity against some of the best sides at Turkey 2013. France took a grip on the title of tournament top scorers, so far at least, with four-goal tallies against hosts Turkey and Uzbekistan, before seeing off a valiant Ghana side in the semis, with a mix of slick interplay and some quality finishing.
The golden boot-chasing Yaya Sanogo is no doubt grateful for the support he has received from Messrs Pogba, Kondogbia, Thauvin, Digne and Bahebeck in unlocking opposing defences.
Uruguay on the other hand have shown their battling qualities in the knockout stages, striking late against Nigeria, in extra-time versus Spain and taking Iraq to penalties after another last-gasp goal.
This hard-to-beat quality has been built on the spine of captain Gaston Silva and the uncompromising Sebastian Cristoforo, with the flair of Diego Laxalt and Giorgian De Arrascaeta providing a delectable counterpoint. While somewhat more unpredictable, and maybe slightly less fancied, than the French, Juan Verzeri’s side have what it takes to go head-to-head with anyone at this level.