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The FIFA U20 World Cup heads to Eastern Europe in 2019 for what promises to be a month-long festival of football.
The biennial 24-team tournament will be hosted by Poland across six different cities between May 23 and June 15.
England won the previous tournament in South Korea, but will not defend their title after losing 3–0 to Norway in a qualifying play-off at the 2018 European U19 Championship in Finland.
Read on as we provide you with an in-depth guide to the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup.
HISTORY OF THE U20 WORLD CUP
The FIFA U20 World Cup has been staged every two years since the first tournament was held in Tunisia back in 1977.
It was known as the FIFA World Youth Championship until 2005.
There have been 21 tournaments to date, with Argentina the most successful team with six titles, followed by Brazil with five.
Portugal (2) and Serbia (2) are next on the list, while Ghana, Germany, Spain, France, England and Russia have each won the title once.
Top stars like Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi are amongst the players who have represented their countries at previous tournaments.
U20 WORLD CUP 2019 HOST CITIES
Bielsko-Biała, Bydgoszcz, Gdynia, Łodz, Lublin and Tychy are the six cities to host the competition in 2019.
Łodz will stage the opening game and final at the Stadion Widzewa. It is the home stadium of Widzew Łodz and has an all-seater capacity of around 18,000.
It is the most central of the six stadiums being used, with Gdynia being the most northerly while Bielsko-Biata sits towards the south of the country, close to the Beskid Mountains.
U20 WORLD CUP COMPETITION FORMAT
The 24 teams have been drawn into six groups of four teams. The top two teams in each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16. The groups are as follows:
- Group A: Poland, Colombia, Tahiti, Senegal
- Group B: Mexico, Italy, Japan, Ecuador
- Group C: Honduras, New Zealand, Uruguay, Norway
- Group D: Qatar, Nigeria, Ukraine, United States
- Group E: Panama, Mali. France, Saudi Arabia
- Group F: Portugal, South Korea, Argentina, South Africa
In the round of 16, the four third-placed teams will be matched with the winners of groups A, B, C, and D.
There will then be quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final to determine a winner, along with a third-place match between the two semi-final losers.
If a match is level at the end of 90 minutes, extra-time of 30 minutes will be played where each team is allowed to make a fourth substitution.
If the teams are still tied after extra-time, the match will be decided by a penalty shoot-out to find a winner.
U20 WORLD CUP BROADCASTERS
Many broadcasters will offer live online screening of games throughout the U20 World Cup. The following companies hold broadcasting rights to the tournament:
- Poland: Telewizja Polska
- Argentina: TyC Sports
- Colombia: RCN Televisión
- Ecuador: Canal Uno
- Italy: RAI
- Japan: Dentsu
- Honduras: TVC
- Mexico: Televisa / TDN
- Middle East and North Africa: beIN Sports, Eleven Sports, Abu Dhabi Sports
- New Zealand: Sky Sport
- Panama: TVN, Medcom
- Peru: Latina Televisión
- Portugal: RTP
- South America: DIRECTV
- South Korea: KBS, MBC, SBS
- United Kingdom: FreeSports
- United States: Fox Sports, Telemundo, Futbol de Primera
- Uruguay: TyC Sports
- Ukraine: UA:PBC
U20 WORLD CUP SPONSORSHIPS
There are a host of major sponsors backing this year’s tournament in Poland, including Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai–Kia, Qatar Airways, VISA and Wanda Group.
U20 WORLD CUP TEAMS TO WATCH
France are historically strong at youth level and are strongly fancied to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.
They are unbeaten in their last seven matches at U20 level and should dominate their opening group containing Panama, Mali and Saudi Arabia
Six-time winners Argentina are another team to be feared, although they have been beaten by both Brazil and France during 2019.
Portugal should also be in the mix, having lost just one of their last 10 matches, while Italy, Colombia and Uruguay are also worth monitoring during the tournament.