Saturday, 11 April 2009

Barcelona and the U-20 World Cup


date: 2 April 2009

As the FIFA U-20 World Cup approaches took a look back at some of the stars of the previous tournaments, the common theme amongst the biggest stars of these past tournaments seemed to be one club: FC Barcelona:

As Egypt prepares to host the 17th edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the locals may well be wondering what to expect. The tournament's billing has traditionally promised 'a look at football's stars of tomorrow, today', but has the 32-year-old showpiece really lived up to this kind of hype? set about finding out.

Diego makes his entrance
Nothing compared to the sense of history-in-the-making that accompanied the 1979 edition in Japan. This was the tournament at which a certain Diego Maradona gave the world a memorable first glimpse of his awesome potential, inspiring an outstanding Argentina side to glory.

Star-studded supporting casts
The elegant, imperious Robert Prosinecki proved a popular choice as the tournament's outstanding player, but the title-winning Yugoslavia team alone provided the midfielder with a plethora of worthy rivals such as Zvonimir Boban, Predrag Mijatovic and Davor Suker. There was similarly stiff competition in Saudi Arabia two years later, with Diego Simeone, Sonny Anderson and Oleg Salenko all in the running for honours.

Portugal 1991 witnessed the crowning of a 'golden generation' as the hosts retained the trophy, despite the efforts of emerging talents such as Giovane Elber, Andy Cole and Paulo Montero. Yet the player identified as the competition's shining star was not Luis Figo, nor Rui Costa or Joao Pinto, but rather Peixe, who unlike his overlooked team-mates went on to enjoy a surprisingly unspectacular career.

South America again dominated the podium in 1997, but while an Argentina side including Juan Roman Riquelme and Esteban Cambiasso took home the title, it was Nicolas Olivera who bagged the Golden Ball award. The Uruguayan's happiest times thereafter were spent with Sevilla, but although he also appeared at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, his achievements have been overshadowed by rivals from that class of 97 including Thierry Henry, Michael Owen, David Trezeguet and Nicolas Anelka.

By this stage in the history of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, there was an established pattern of future superstars failing to land the end-of-tournament awards, and this continued at Nigeria 1999 when Ronaldinho, Roque Santa Cruz, Xavi and Diego Forlan all missed out on the Golden Ball. Yet while Seydou Keita was perhaps a surprise recipient at the time, the Malian is currently cementing his reputation as an outstanding, hard-tackling midfielder with the mighty Barcelona.

Messi spearheads new generation
The Camp Nou has proved a popular destination for stars of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and Javier Saviola - winner of both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe at Argentina 2001 - was expected to become a Barça legend when he completed a £15 million move at the age of just 19. As it transpired, El Conejo never really won the hearts of the Catalan faithful and is currently to be found warming the bench of Barcelona's old rivals, Real Madrid. Incidentally, Kaka featured among the players beaten by Saviola to the 2001 honours, not the first time a future FIFA World Player had found himself overlooked.

At UAE 2003, the role of bridesmaid fell to the likes of Andres Iniesta, Daniel Alves and Javier Mascherano, with the erstwhile unknown Ismaeil Matar emerging as the tournament's star attraction.

Yet it says much for the continued ability of the FIFA U-20 World Cup to showcase the best emerging talent that the two most recent recipients of the tournament's Golden Ball award are expected to be star attractions in South Africa. Lionel Messi, the star of Netherland 2005, needs no introduction of course, with many already insisting that the Barcelona star is the world's greatest player.His fellow Argentinian, Sergio Aguero, who shone in Canada two years ago and went on to dazzle just as brightly at last year's Men's Olympic Football Tournament, is another youngster for whom hopes could hardly be any higher.

The only question now is: who will follow in the footsteps of this galaxy of stars? Whoever it is, history would suggest that Egypt can safely expect a treat.

read the full and original article here

Note by barca4life:
Spain have been drawn in group B along with Nigeria, Venezuela and Tahiti. says: "With the rising star of Spanish football Bojan Krkic expected to be absent - the Barcelona man is eligible to play but likely to have a full agenda with the U-21 and senior teams - it will fall to several of his former team-mates from Korea 2007 to take a leading role." goes on to list possible Spain stars as rumoured Barcelona target David de Gea and former Barcelona youth player Fran Merida. The coach of the Spanish U-20 team is ex Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder Luis Milla. He played 53 games for Barcelona between 1988 and 1990, before joining Real Madrid and playing 159 games for Los Merengues. He was last season assistant coach at Getafe where he served under Barca legend Michael Laudrup who coincidentally also played for both Barcelona (1989-1994) and Real Madrid (1994-1996).


kamikaze kontiki said...

Good job barca4life !

barca4life said...

Thanks kamikaze

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