There were seven goals scored in the first round of Group B games at the 2017 Men's U-20 World Cup, and there were seven scored in the group's second round - but this time they were all scored by Venezuela.
The CONMEBOL qualifiers are flying after two games of this tournament, albeit in a group that looked a little weak on paper before the competition got started. The rest of Group B is looking less convincing, though at least one of them will get a chance to work out their problems in the knockout rounds.
Venezuela has clinched its place in the next stage of the tournament and - at the moment - looks exactly the sort of confident, goals-in-bunches sort of opponent more teams would rather avoid in the round of 16.
Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu
Worth remembering that Mexico needed a last-minute goal to squeak by Vanuatu, 3-2, in the first round of games in this group. The Oceania qualifiers looked likely to give up a lot of goals against El Tri as well, but the difference between Mexico and Venezuela at the moment at this tournament is well illustrated by the difference between their results against what looks to be the weakest team at this World Cup.
Though Venezuela didn't find the next in this game until the 30th minute, it made up for lost time with scoring blitz that stopped only because the match is limited to 90 minutes. By the final whistle, Vanuatu had conceded seven and there was the impression the Venezuelans were taking turns to get on the score sheet - even goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez found the net, converting a penalty in the 56th minute.
This big win was not unexpected, but Mexico had already demonstrated that Vanuatu could flummox expectations if given a chance. Venezuela allowed its opponent no chance. The win clinched the Venezuelan's spot in the knockout rounds - indeed, since they played earlier than South Korea on the same day, they were technically the first team at this World Cup to claim a spot in the round of 16.
Mexico 0-0 Germany
On paper, El Tri is doing fine so far: a win and a draw from its first two games of the group stage gives it a solid shot at qualifying for the knockout rounds, regardless of what happens in its Group B finale against Venezuela.
But this result will have been troubling for Mexico. First, Germany does not appear to be in anything like the sort of form required to be considered among the best teams at this tournament. After an even, scoreless game against a stuttering German side and a surprisingly narrow win over Vanuatu, Mexico is not making a convincing case for itself.
Four points should be enough to get Mexico to the knockout rounds, but it may be sweating a little on other results. Germany will be expected to beat Vanuatu by a lot of goals, sufficient to establish a goal-difference advantage over El Tri, if Mexico loses to Venezuela in its last game of the group stage. And if Mexico loses to Venezuela, it will have - at best - a modest goal difference of 0. Only four of the six third-placed teams from the group stage will make it through to the knockout rounds, and if more than four pick up four points, then Mexico could find itself at the wrong end of the tie-breaking scenarios. Of course, a win or a draw against Venezuela eliminates any concerns, and that will be El Tri's objective for its next game.
Germany might have dodged a bullet with this result. With one point and zero goals from two games, the Germans do not look in the sort of form to make much impact on this tournament. But they have Vanuatu next. If they can emulate Venezuela and convert the many scoring opportunities that match should present, then they'll finish with four points and a healthy goal difference. That could be good enough for second place in Group B, if Mexico finds Venezuela too hot to handle.
One way or another, it seems likely a lack luster team will find its way out of Group B into the knockout rounds.
- Mexico vs Venezuela - 4:00 am, Eastern; Friday, May 26
- Germany vs Vanuatu - 4:00 am, Eastern; Friday May 26