The primary purpose of Group D of the 2017 Men's U-20 World Cup appears to be to deprive the knockout rounds of at least one good team. Uruguay has made sure it won't be a victim of this group; South Africa looks set to succumb to the toughest group in the tournament.
Italy 2-0 South Africa
Italy got its campaign on track after an opening-game loss to Uruguay. Riccardo Orsolini scored a penalty in the first half, and Andrea Favilli added a second in the 57th minute to claim all three points for the Italians. The result sets up Italy to clinch a guaranteed spot in the knockout rounds with a win or draw against Japan on May 27.
South Africa looks to be the team destined to finish bottom of this group. The team has been competitive in both its games to date at this tournament, but Group D looks like this World Cup's true Group of Death. Better teams that South Africa would struggle in this group, and South Africa would likely do better in almost any other group in the competition.
After back-to-back losses, the South Africans have the improbable task of beating Uruguay to have any hope of progressing to the knockout rounds.
Uruguay 2-0 Japan
Japan will look back on this game and see multiple missed chances to at least equalize. That lack of finishing could be what costs the Japanese a place in the knockout rounds, as they must play Italy next in what looks a lot like a playoff for a place in the round of 16.
Uruguay, on the other hand, has good reason to be confident about its prospects in this tournament. The top team out of CONMEBOL qualifying has played two close, tough games and won them both, with back-to-back clean sheets as well. I this match, Nicolas Schiappacasse opened the scoring in the 38th minute, but Uruguy didn't make the result safe until second-half stoppage time, when Mathias Olivera found the net.
Uruguay is in the knockout rounds, guaranteed no worse than second place in the group. And it will be an opponent to be reckoned with when the latter stages of this World Cup get started.
- South Africa vs Uruguay - 7:00 am, Eastern; Saturday, May 27
- Italy vs Japan - 7:00 am, Eastern; Saturday, May 27