Portugal will face Brazil for the FIFA U-20 World Cup this weekend two decades on from their famous win against the same opponents in Lisbon as they aim to become the first European country to lift the trophy three times.
Having gained victory in 1989, Portugal successfully defended the trophy on home soil two years later with a penalty shoot-out triumph against Brazil, as Luís Figo, Rui Costa and company beat a team starring Roberto Carlos in front of 127,000 fans at the Estádio da Luz. This time around in Colombia, Portugal's defence has been the key, not conceding a goal in their six matches, though at 03.00CET on Sunday they take on a Brazil side in Bogota who have scored 17 with only three against.
Ilídio Vale, whose charges qualified a year ago with a third-place group finish at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in France, saw his players beat that same nation – who took the continental title – 2-0 in the semi-finals. Before that they saw off Argentina on penalties after a scoreless quarter-final, having defeated Guatemala 1-0 in the last 16 and in the group stage drawn 0-0 with Uruguay before single-goal wins against Cameroon and New Zealand.
Unsurprisingly goalkeeper Mika, signed this summer by SL Benfica from UD Leiria, and his defence have stolen the headlines, yet the scorers against France, Danilo and Nelson Oliveira, have also impressed. "
I don't know of any team that has gone into a final without giving up a goal," Vale said. "In the final we'll try to keep doing what we've done best so far, which is to play effective football."
France, who tackle Mexico for third place prior to the final, lost their opener 4-1 to hosts Colombia before finding the form that gave them the 2010 European crown. Korea Republic were beaten 3-1 and Mali 2-0 to ensure French progress to the knockouts, where they edged past Ecuador 1-0 and then Nigeria 3-2 after extra time in a thrilling quarter-final. Captain Gueïda Fofana scored a stunner in that additional half-hour, capping his marvellous tournament, while substitute Alexandre Lacazette, who struck the other two, showed an uncanny ability to get goals from the bench.
Spain, runners-up to France 12 months ago, lifted the continental title earlier this month in Romania but their World Cup campaign was ended on penalties by Brazil after an epic last-eight encounter. England had fallen the round before 1-0 to Nigeria, having advanced through their group with three 0-0 draws; Croatia and Austria did not make the last 16. Turkey will stage the next finals in 2013, for which the 2011/12 European U19 Championship in Estonia will act as qualifier.
Past U-20 World Cup finals
(UEFA nations in bold)
Egypt 2009: Ghana 0-0 (4-3p) Brazil
Canada 2007: Argentina 2-1 Czech Republic
Netherlands 2005: Argentina 2-1 Nigeria
UAE 2003: Brazil 1-0 Spain
Argentina 2001: Argentina 3-0 Ghana
Nigeria 1999: Spain 4-0 Japan
Malaysia 1997: Argentina 2-1 Uruguay
Qatar 1995: Argentina 2-0 Brazil
Australia 1993: Brazil 2-1 Ghana
Portugal 1991: Portugal 0-0 (4-2p) Brazil
Saudi Arabia 1989: Portugal 2-0 Nigeria
Chile 1987: Yugoslavia 1-1 (5-4p) West Germany
Soviet Union 1985: Brazil 1-0 Spain (aet)
Mexico 1983: Brazil 1-0 Argentina
Australia 1981: West Germany 4-0 Qatar
Japan 1979: Argentina 3-1 Soviet Union
Tuinisia 1977: Soviet Union 2-2 (9-8p) Mexico
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