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France, Japan, Korea and USA all set for FIFA U-20 Women's semi final showdown

Despite defending champions Germany’s elimination from the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016, this year’s semi-final line-up still includes two former winners. USA, victorious over bitter rivals Mexico in the quarter-finals, are fiercely determined to lift the trophy for a fourth time, while Korea DPR are seeking a second tournament triumph.

Japan and France, who contest the second semi-final, have largely met their objectives for the competition, and both have ensured that observers now sit up and take notice of them after some impressive displays. Japan dismantled 2014 finalists Nigeria 6-0 in the group stage, while France ended Germany’s campaign with a 1-0 win in the last eight. Now both teams are looking to make history by reaching the final for the first time.

The games
Korea DPR-USA, 29 November 16:00 (Sir John Guise Stadium)
Only three nations have lifted the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup trophy. One of them – Germany – is already back at home, while the other two are set to fight it out for a place in this year’s final. This is also a meeting of third (Korea DPR) against second in the overall rankings (vanquished Germany are currently first). The sides have met three times before at the tournament. In 2012, Korea DPR prevailed on penalties, while USA won 2-1 after extra time in 2012 and by the same scoreline in the 2008 final.

That they meet again this time around was by no means a foregone conclusion, as both teams were given a major scare in the quarter-finals. The Asian side needed extra time to overcome Spain 3-2, while the Stars and Stripes were staring defeat to Mexico in the face until two goals in the final ten minutes from substitutes Kelcie Hedge and Ally Watt turned the game in their favour.

Japan-France, 29 November, 19:30 (Sir John Guise Stadium)
Both sides are in the semi-final for just the second time. Four years ago, the Young Nadeshiko were beaten 3-0 on home soil by Germany and eventually finished third. Two years later, France also took the last place on the podium after beating Korea DPR 3-2 in the play-off for third place following a 2-1 semi-final defeat to Germany.

In beating Brazil 3-1 in the quarters, Japan produced the best performance of any remaining team, with only their chance-conversion rate leaving something to be desired. Meanwhile, France’s impressive win over Germany was underpinned by their defensive resilience, as well as an excellent display between the posts by Live Your Goals Player of the Match Mylene Chavas. Curiously, France have lost against the eventual champions in their last four FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup campaigns. Can they buck that trend and lift the trophy this time around?

Player to watch
Les Bleuettes’ reaching the last four is down in no small part to the efforts of Delphine Cascarino. In the group phase, the technically gifted midfielder contributed a goal against Ghana and an assist against New Zealand and was named the Live Your Goals Player of the Match in two of France’s four games. She also fired her team into the semi-finals with a wonderful goal against Germany, and her importance to the French cause is further underlined by the fact that she led them out as captain in the last two matches.

The stat
2 - Should both Asian teams make it through, it would be the third time that two sides from the same confederation meet in the final. In 2002, USA beat Canada 1-0 before Korea DPR beat China PR 5-0 in 2006.

The words
"They (Korea DPR) are another completely different team to what we have faced. They are really good defensively, really good in wide areas, lethal in set-plays. We know the success they have had, and how much better they have got as a nation. You look at the success with the U-17s and he (the coach) has brought that to the U-20 group, so we know it will be a really tough game."
USA coach Michelle French

Words and Photo Source:: fifa
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