France hopes to build on its triumph at last summer’s UEFA Under-19 Championship as it prepares to hit the pitch this weekend for the start of the FIFA U20 World Cup as a +600 betting favorite.
The French powered to victory at the 2016 UEFA Under-19 Championship by outscoring opponents by a 7-1 margin during the knockout stage, including a 4-0 win over rival Italy in the tournament final to pay out as a +700 pre-tournament bet.
But Les Bleus have struggled since claiming last year’s European junior crown, posting just one win in five matches ahead of Monday’s France vs. Honduras group stage matchup at Cheonan Baekseok Stadium in Cheonan, South Korea.
France settled for draws in a pair of friendly matchups with the Netherlands last November, and turned in a disappointing 1-1-1 record at the Tournoi U20 Four Nations in March. But after drawing into Group E alongside the longshot Hondurans, New Zealand, and Vietnam, France looks to have to clear path to the knockout stage at this year’s tournament.
The French are closely followed on the FIFA U20 World Cup odds by Germany, at +700. It proved to be a much tougher road to the U20 World Cup for the Germans, who failed to make it out of the group stage at the 2016 UEFA Under-19 Championship, but eked out a World Cup berth by topping the Netherlands on penalties in a one-match playoff.
Germany has played inconsistent soccer since that victory, posting four clean sheet wins in seven friendlies, but getting outscored by a 7-3 margin in three losses during that stretch.
Die Mannschaft opens Group B action on Saturday against Venezuela as strong -145 chalk, and will likely face its stiffest group stage competition against Mexico, which is pegged at +1600 on the U20 championship odds after posting lopsided clean sheet wins in four of its past six games.
South American rivals Argentina and Uruguay enter the tournament deadlocked at +900, followed by England and Italy, knotted at +1200, while Ecuador joins Mexico at +1600.
A six-time champion at the U20 World Cup, Argentina stumbled to a fourth-place finish at this year’s CONMEBOL Sudamericano Sub-20, but crushed Vietnam 5-0 in a pre-tournament friendly last weekend.
Uruguay posted four clean sheet wins en route to its first Sudamericano Sub-20 crown since 1981, and hopes to avenge its loss to France on penalties in the 2013 U20 World Cup. This year’s English U20 squad travels to South Korea riding a six-match win streak, but is pegged as a +180 underdog in its Group A opener against Argentina on Saturday.