Brazil, Portugal meet in U-20 final
Brazil's flamboyant attack meets Portugal's impregnable defense in Saturday's final of the Under-20 World Cup.
Brazil goes in as the favorite, looking for its fifth U20 title and trying to avoid the kind of upset that took place two years ago when the South Americans were beaten in the final by Ghana.
Portugal, which has yet to give up a goal in six matches behind keeper Mika, is chasing its third U20 title. The Europeans are hoping for a repeat of the last of their two titles, when 20 years ago Portugal defeated Brazil on penalties in the final.
''We are going to revisit the game from 20 years ago,'' Portugal coach Ilidio Vale said Friday. ''The final is going to be spoken in Portuguese between two countries that have great affection for each other.''
Portugal, with upcoming stars like Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Joao Pinto, won that showdown 4-2 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
''I hope this game will have the same level of quality as that one,'' Brazil coach Ney Franco added.
Almost everyone believes Brazil will be too much, even for Portugal's stout defense.
The South Americans have scored 15 goals, led by Henrique with five and Philippe Coutinho and Dudu with three each.
''Brazil's attack is powerful and we can cause damage to Portugal's tough defense,'' Franco said.
Henrique scored two late goals in Brazil's 2-0 semifinal victory over Mexico. Franco has talked openly about his tactic of wearing down the other team in the first half, and then striking in the second.
It may be tough on Saturday for both teams in Bogota, where the thin air at 2,600 meters (8,600 feet) is likely to take a toll.
The final threatens to be an anticlimax.
For many the ''real final'' took place in the quarterfinals, when Brazil defeated Spain 4-2 on penalties after the match finished 2-2 after extra time.
Mika has been spectacular in goal for Portugal. According to FIFA, Portugal is only 19 minutes short of matching Brazil's record set in 1997 of 634 minutes without conceding a goal in the Under-20 World Cup.
The Europeans have had trouble in attack. They have only five goals in six matches, and two came in the 2-0 victory over France in the semifinals.
''Regardless if the trophy ends up in the hands of Brazil or Portugal, it will be in good hands,'' Brazil coach Franco said.