The 2011 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia still have two rounds left to play, but it may already have seen its best match. The quarterfinal between Spain and Brazil was one for the ages with the two most talented teams in the tournament battling through 120 minutes only to be locked in a 2-2 draw. To penalty kicks the two went where Brazil prevailed to go through to a semifinal clash against Mexico on Wednesday evening.
While Brazil was battling the extraordinarily good Spain side, Mexico was taking on Colombia. They were not tested in nearly the same way, although going up against the hosts is never easy, and Mexico looked every bit the better team. Erick 'Cubo' Torres knocked home a penalty and Edson Rivera tallied twice to lead them past the hosts, 3-1.
Impressive or not in the quarterfinals, Mexico are the underdogs in this semifinal. Brazil are the favorites to win the whole tournament now with a potent attack that has scored a tournament leading 13 goals. Philippe Coutinho and Henrique each have three goals to lead the attack, while Willian has also proved to be dangerous. Add in Dudu, the Brazilians' super sup who had three goals of his own and the attackers never really stop coming for Brazil.
When attacking fails, Brazil turns to their man between the sticks, Gabriel. The Cruzeiro product has made some sensational saves in the tournament, including one that got Brazil into penalty kicks against Spain, where he made two more saves to put his team through. Simply put, there aren't many ways past this Brazil team that is in search of the country's fifth U-20 World Cup title.
If Mexico are to upset Brazil, they will need a stellar night from Cubo Torres. The Chivas de Guadalajara player scored eight goals in his first year with the senior team last year and is already being hailed as "the next Chicharito." He has just one goal in the tournament, but has been a part of the build up to several Mexico goals. This is not a Mexican team that has been the most dangerous in the attack though.
Instead, Mexico has depended on a stout defense, having allowed just three goals all tournament. Nestor Araujo is among the most highly touted Mexican youngsters who starred at Copa America just a month ago and has been a rock at the back. Backing up the back line is Jose Rodriguez, who has been almost as good as Gabriel with several tremendous saves to his name.
Mexico is looking to complete a dream summer. It started at the Gold Cup where the senior team defeated their U.S. rivals int he final to claim the title. Not long after came a victory at the U-17 World Cup in front of over 110,000 Mexican fans in Mexico City. A win over Brazil and then in the final will make them three for three in the summer, an incredible run for the country. Doing so will be difficult though as Brazil look to be the superior side.
The winner of the semifinal between Brazil and Mexico will play for the U-20 championship against the winner of the other semifinal between France and Portugal. That semifinal will take place in Medellin later on Wednesday before Saturday's final in Bogota.