20 August, 2011

Brazil and Portugal in U-20 Final Today

At 3:00 Pacific Time, Mexico will face France in the U-20 World Championship third place match (on Galavision) followed by Brazil and Portugal for the U-20 Championship trophy.

Brazil defeated co-favorite Spain in the quarterfinals in a shootout after a 2-2 draw to face Mexico. Mexico defeated host Colombia 3-1 in the quarterfinals and gave Brazil a tough scrap in the semifinals until Brazil's Henrique (Sao Paulo) scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to give Brazil the victory. Henrique is now the leading candidate for the Golden Boot, tied with Spain's Alvaro Vazquez (RCD Espanyol) with 5 goals but with one more match to play tonight. Brazil's goalkeeper Gabriel (Cruzeiro) was amazing, stopping a number of point-blank shots to earn the shutout. I was especially impressed by center back Danilo (Santos), who is about to become a very rich man. Only one Brazilian starter, #10 Coutinho, plays outside Brazil, for Inter Milan. For Mexico, every single player without exception plays professionally at home in Mexico. I was especially impressed by Club America left back Diego Reyes who was a tremendous defender and target man on corner kicks.

Portugal survived a 0-0 draw against Argentina in the quarterfinals and won by shootout to face France, who needed extra time to defeat tough Nigeria 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Against France, Portugal seized a quick lead on a goal by Danilo Pereira (of Parma, not to be confused with the Brazilian center back Danilo) in the 9th minute and didn't look back, adding a second goal on a penalty kick by captain Nelson Oliveira (Benfica) late in the first half to win 2-0.

Danilo Pereira is leading nominee for Golden Ball, along teammate Nelson Oliveira, Henrique and Coutinho of Brazil, Mexico captain Jorge Enriquez (Guadalajara), Gueida Fofana of France (Le Havre), Argentina's Carlos Luque (Colon Santa Fe), Spain's Hugo Mallo (Celta de Vigo), Nigeria's Ahmed Musa (VVV Venlo of Holland), and Colombia's best player, James Rodriguez (Porto), who I personally watched record an assist on the tying goal and then score the game winning goal on a 92nd minute penalty kick in Colombia's thrilling come-from behind 3-2 win over Costa Rica in the round of 16. James Rodriguez was easily the best player on the field and I don't doubt he was named one of the ten finalists for the Golden Ball by FIFA. Colombia's other stars were Michael Ortega (Bayer Leverkusen) and leading goal scorer Luis Muriel (Lecce), who play in the Bundesliga and Serie A, respectively. However, watch the Brazilian kids. Only Coutinho plays in Europe but I have a feeling the rest of them are about to get paid very well.

UPDATE: since the U-20 tournament began, Porto have just signed Brazilian defenders Danilo and Alex Sandro. They will both complete the season at Santos before joining Porto in 2012.


  1. For those of you keeping score at home, Porto also has Gooch under contract and is laying the groundwork to ease these two youngsters in and be a force for years to come in Cup play.

  2. Oh and as an aside, the lead ref for the game? 36yo American Mark Geiger. Definitely good to see an American getting such responsibilities in an important match.

  3. Wow, only ten minutes in and already 1-1. Oscar (Internacional of Brazil) scores on a direct free kick that may or may not have been deflected into the goal by a defender, then Nelson Oliveira (Benfica) finds Alex (Santa Clara of Portugal) with a sweet pass across the face of the goal in the 9th minute.

  4. And we're headed to overtime. Nelson Oliveira gave Portugal a 2-1 lead when Brazil GK Gabriel failed to save his individual effort from a bad angle in the 59th minute. But then twenty minutes later, Brazilian substitute Dudu (Cruzeiro) passed across the goal and Portugal GK Mika (Benfica) tapped it right into the path of an onrushing Oscar, who got his second goal of the game in the 78th, and it is tied 2-2 after 90 minutes.

  5. What a finish! Oscar scored his third goal of the match and only his third goal of the entire tournament with a long distance effort from the right sideline that dipped over Mika's outstretched fingertips and curled into the left post side netting in the 111th minute.

    In post-game interviews, Gabriel's right eye was purple and swollen, the result of a collison during the semifinal win over Mexico that left Gabriel looking like a boxer with his eye swollen shut. Hard to argue against Nelson Oliveira as the golden ball winner, with a goal and assist, but only because Oscar was not among the finalists. Henrique failed to score today, so perhaps Alvaro Vazquez will win the golden boot by virtue of fewer games played, although I don't have the assist tiebreaker in front of me. Henrique kicked a wide open opportunity right into Mika's hands, so he doesn't deserve the golden boot in my opinion.

  6. Final comment, award ceremony on now. Henrique did, in fact, win the golden boot by virtue of the assists tiebreaker. Mika of Portugal won the golden keeper award for fewest goals allowed. Jorge Enriquez of Mexico won the bronze ball, Nelson Oliveira won the silver, and Henrique won the golden ball as top player.

    I gave Nelson Oliveira the golden ball on my scorecard but I didn't get to vote and Henrique got it. Not sure how much longer he will stay at Sao Paulo with the rich European clubs tracking him now. Congratulations to third place winners Mexico (goals by Ulises Davila of Guadalajara, bronze ball winner Jorge Enriquez of Guadalajara, with a volley off a pair of headers, and a real beauty by Edson Rivera of Atlas, with a diving header on a corner kick).

    Congratulations also to second place Portugal, and especially U-20 world champions Brazil.


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