After defeating Nigeria in the quarterfinals, South Korea’s Kim Eun Joong-ho will face Italy in the final on Monday (Sept. 9). Italy defeated Colombia 3-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday to advance to the semifinals.
Italy is a traditional European powerhouse that has performed well in recent U-2O tournaments. The Azzurri have reached the final four in three consecutive tournaments, including third place in South Korea in 2017 and fourth place in Poland in 2019.
Comparing Kim Eun-Joong-ho’s performance to this tournament, Italy has the edge. While South Korea has three wins and two draws, Italy has four wins and only one loss. The Azzurri suffered their first loss of the tournament in the group stage, 안전놀이터 falling 0-2 to Nigeria, South Korea’s quarterfinal opponent. However, the Azzurri went on to beat Brazil 3-2, the favorites, and then defeated fellow favorites England 2-1 in the round of 16. Through five games, they have scored 11 goals and conceded six. Italy’s No. 1 player to watch is Cesare Cassaday. The top scorer in the tournament with six goals, more than half of his team’s total, Cassaday joined Chelsea in England last year. In January of this year, he was loaned to Reading in the second division and has been on a scoring streak of three consecutive games.
Kim Eun-Joong-Ho is also at a fitness disadvantage against Italy. Italy played their quarterfinal a day earlier than Kim and had a longer rest period, while Kim played an extra 30 minutes of pre- and post-overtime against Nigeria, so he may be at a disadvantage in the stamina department.
However, South Korea’s head-to-head record at the U-20 level is favorable, so the outcome is not easily predicted. In the 1981 edition of the tournament in Australia, they won 4-1 thanks to two goals from Choi Sun-ho. In the New Year’s tournament in Japan in 2000, South Korea won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Lee Ik-Su, giving them a 2-0 record against Italy.