Friday 22nd June, 2018
7 ℃ | 13 ℃Auckland
The 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup is set to kick off in South Korea this weekend, with many of world football's best young talents ready to take on the biggest challenge of their careers so far. Here, we preview the group stage and predict who will advance in the competition.

Group A: South Korea, Guinea, Argentina, England

The front-runners

Argentina will compete strongly even if, two years ago in New Zealand, a highly fancied team fell at the first hurdle. But this does not appear a vintage crop and they only finished fourth in the South American Youth Football Championship earlier this year. Although a mainly domestic-based squad should reach the latter stages, they may find the knockouts tougher going. Racing Club's exciting striker Lautaro Martinez is a big threat, but it could be that a sparky England side boasting considerable top-level experience -- including the likes of Lewis Cook, Josh Onomah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Ademola Lookman -- has better long-term prospects in the competition despite the nation's poor record at U20 World Cups.

The outsiders

The host nation, South Korea, will want to retain an interest in an event whose past eight they have reached twice in the past decade. They are coached by former national team midfielder Shin Tae-Yong and will be able to count on fervent support. They also have two Barcelona youngsters, Lee Seung-woo and Paik Seung-Ho -- the former known as the "Korean Messi" -- in their ranks. Their opening fixture is against a Guinea team that are the group's longest shot; it may be that the pair are effectively playing off to be among the four third-placed finishers that go through.

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