Tomas Pekhart and Ever Banega go at each other
The Czech Republic will meet Argentina this Sunday in the U20 final. The Czechs beat Austria, 2-0 and Argentina beat Chile, 3-0 in an ill tempered semi-final that saw El Rojitos down to nine players. Sergio Aguera did not score a goal but team mates Claudio Yacoub, Angel di Maria, and Maximiliano Moralez did. The Argentinians have poured in 14 goals and conceded just the one. Aguero has scored 5 in 6 matches and will probably win the Golden Boot as this U20 tournament’s top scorer. In fact, there are three Argentinians in the top five list, with Maximiliano Moralez with four and Angel di Maria, with three.
So the Czechs know who they have to stop. Or do they? The Argentinians have 12 assists which means that the Argentinians have been combining phenomenally well as a team and their heart and soul is Boca’s Ever Banega, the stylish midfielder who has taken Fernando Gago’s position and will soon no doubt become a transfer target himself. The midfield has been superb with Damian Escudero, Matias Sanchez, and Claudio Yacoub feeding their hungry strikers.
The Argentinians lead in every strike category. Goals scored, goal average, assists, and shots on goal. The Argentinians have not been lacking in defense either just conceding the one and on the way beating high scoring offenses of Mexico and Chile. On the face of it this should be a stroll against a Czech team that has struggled to score and conceded quite a few.
But and there is always a but. The Argentinians were forced into a draw with the Czech in their group E encounter with a steely and determined wall of midfielders and defenders stopping Aguero and Mauro Zarate. The Czechs are also the top team in fouls committed so look for a repeat of a very physical game where they will try and throw off the hight octane offense.
News does not live in a vacuum and the Czechs will have no doubt heard about how a stubborn and active Brazilian defense stopped the likes of Leo Messi and Carlos Tevez in their tracks at the Copa America. And if it comes down to penalty shoot out which is what the Czechs will be hoping for, they have a huge edge having already won two crucial matches, against Japan and Spain.
Of course, in all of this one should not forget that the overlooked Czechs, who were not favoured to go anywhere near the finals, have a fair bit of talent on attack with Martin Fenin and Lubos Kalouda having combined for five goals.