20 Jun 2015

Under-20 World Cup: finals day

9:09 am on 20 June 2015

It began 22 days ago against the backdrop of a FIFA scandal in front of a sell-out crowd, and now the Under-20 men's football World Cup will end with a sold-out final today.

The scandal, over corruption surrounding world football's rulers, isn't hogging the same headlines today - but forecast heavy rain is set to blight the final this afternoon in Auckland.

And the game between Brazil and Serbia at North Harbour Stadium may be a sell-out, but the weather's not looking like joining in the festivities.

Serbian players celebrate their historic semi-final victory over Mali

Serbian players celebrate their historic semi-final victory over Mali Photo: Photosport

While Brazil can equal Argentina's record of six junior world titles with a win, it's Serbia's first-ever final - in fact, it's the first time the Serbs have made the World Cup as an independent nation.

Their coach Veljko Paunovic is well aware of the history at stake today against the Brazilians, who thrashed Senegal 5-0 in the first semi-final in Christchurch.

"They have a different approach, they have a different game behind them, and so we will face them the best we can," said Paunovic.

Serbia edged Mali 2-1 in extra time at North Harbour Stadium to reach the final, the goal one of just three they've conceded all tournament. To reach the final, the Serbs needed extra time in all three knockout matches, including a penalty shootout to beat the USA in the quarter-finals.

Brazil's youngsters unite in prayer after thrashing Senegal 5-0

Brazil's youngsters unite in prayer after thrashing Senegal 5-0 Photo: Photosport

But while the final looms as a clash between the all-out attack of Brazil against the stern defence of the Serbs, the Brazilians themselves needed penalties in their first two elimination games, before the romp past the Senegalese.

Who will show up to take out FIFA's second biggest tournament then? The inconsistent show-stoppers from Brazil? Or the patient and clinical Serbs?

Kickoff's at 5pm. The third-place playoff between African rivals Mali and Senegal begins at 1.30.

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