U-20 WWC: Brazil vs Korea DPR

Just before the U-20 Women’s World Cup started, some folks were talking about the sexist advertising and how to get a soccer fix following the Men’s World Cup. Of this morning’s games, Germany-Costa Rica was the one recommended, probably based purely on the fact that Germany is a recognizable power even to fair weather fans. I pointed out that this would be a great game for fans of Germany–because the Germans would easily beat Costa Rica–but probably not a good game for people that are already skeptical of women’s soccer. When I pointed out that Brazil and Korea DPR are more evenly matched and both strongly favored teams, I was greeted with skepticism.

I am not sure how people that have followed the women’s game at the senior or youth levels in the past five years can question that either of those teams are threats. Brazil’s status goes without saying; they are Brazil. They have had Marta. They score and they threaten. Korea DPR beat China for the U-20 title in 2006, beat the US U-17s for the title in 2008, and were runners up to the US U-20s by a close score in 2008. The senior squad is considered a dark horse of sorts, but the youth should be considered solid and consistent–if sometimes dirty–contenders by now.

Today’s particular match-up between these two saw fairly even possession, but as the scoreline (0-1, goal by Ho Un Byol at 69′) shows, DPRK had the better chances on goal. Brazil’s goalkeeper, Aline, had to make saves and did well except for an error in the first half and goal against in the second. Both sides played a cleaner game than I’m used to seeing from them, and certainly a cleaner game than we saw the entire men’s tournament.

There is a reason these two, plus Sweden and New Zealand, combine to create the group of death. Three of these teams have well-founded reputations in the women’s game, and New Zealand brings experience and underdog hunger. So this is a group to keep an eye on, and it is the one I’ll be watching live this week.

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