In 2005, South America’s under-20 match proved a springboard for Lionel Messi to U20 Wrld Cup and international stardom.

Venezuela are the one South American nation by no means to have made it to a World Cup. However they’re satisfied that their time will are available in 2022 — and their optimism relies on rather more than mere religion. Two years in the past they went to the ultimate of the Underneath-20 World Cup, the place they missed a penalty earlier than dropping 1-zero to England.

In Venezuela, they consider this technology will carry all of them the way in which to Qatar — an illustration of the significance that South America attaches to its under-20 groups.

There’s a purpose that Uruguay have re-emerged as a power within the international sport — and it’s certain up with the under-20 facet. In 2006, when coach Oscar Washington Tabarez took over, he started a venture based mostly on his musings on the consequences of globalisation on Uruguayan soccer. Such a small nation would clearly be unable to maintain on to its greatest gamers, and an impoverished home sport wouldn’t serve as a standards for excellence. As an alternative, Tabarez set about to use Uruguay’s youth groups to safe the lengthy-time period way forward for the senior facet. He and his coaches would establish gamers ok to play prime-degree international soccer — these with pace of thought, motion and technical execution. They might develop them in-home, giving them an intense course within the identification and significance of Uruguay’s sky blue shirt.

The most effective had been introduced by means of the under-15 and under-17 groups. However the true check was at the under-20 degree. Those that carried out nicely might anticipate to be quick-tracked into the senior squad. Certainly, nearly all the squad despatched to Russia 2018 had been graduates of the under-20s. And one of many revelations of the match, midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur, got here from the category of 2017.

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Two years in the past, then, Venezuela unveiled their greatest-ever technology. Uruguay paraded Bentancur. Brazil did not carry out nicely however managed to develop Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta. And since their very own Russia 2018 disappointment, Argentina have given senior debuts to the likes of centre-again Juan Foyth, midfielder Santiago Ascacibar and striker Lautaro Martinez.

The query now’s this: Who will emerge from the category of 2019?

The following version of the South American Underneath-20 Championships kicks off on Thursday in Chile. 4 locations can be found on this yr’s Underneath-20 World Cup, staged in Poland in Could. South America’s senior nationwide staff coaches can be watching carefully. So will European scouts, who will descend on Chile in droves.

There can be loads of jewels on supply. Argentina’s Julian Alvarez seems to be like a sensational prospect at centre-ahead. Brazil winger Rodrygo has already been bought to Real Madrid. Colombian centre-again Carlos Cuesta oozes class. Uruguay’s captain Bruno Mendez was excellent final November, when an harm disaster opened up an opportunity for him to step in and make his senior debut at centre-again in opposition to Brazil. Paraguay have enormous hopes for playmaker Ivan Franco. Others will likely emerge from relative obscurity over the following few weeks, choosing up helpful expertise on the way in which to international stardom.

As Lionel Messi did 14 years in the past. For the 2005 model of the match, Argentina referred to as up a tiny 17-year-outdated who had performed one pleasant within the Barcelona first staff. They knew little about him, solely that there have been rumours of one thing particular and that Spain had been additionally chasing him. Messi was not given the No. 10 shirt. He appeared hopelessly small and fragile alongside the opposite gamers. However as soon as he acquired on the ball, everybody knew they had been within the presence of greatness, and earlier than that yr was out he had won the Underneath-20 World Cup in Holland, began to set up himself within the Barcelona staff and made his senior worldwide debut.

The remaining, after all, is historical past. However the place the place all of it started to choose up momentum was the South American Underneath-20 Championships.

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