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Argentina national under-20 football team

Argentina Under-20
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Albicelestes
(White and Sky blue)
Association Argentine Football Association
Confederation CONMEBOL (South America)
Head coach Marcelo Trobbiani
Captain Lisandro Magallán
First international
 Argentina 5–0 Venezuela 
(Buenos Aires, Argentina; 27 February 1951)
Biggest win
 Argentina 8–1 United States 
(São Paulo, Brazil; 4 May 1963)
Biggest defeat
 Mexico 4–1 Argentina 
(Ibadan, Nigeria; April 15, 1999)
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Appearances 13 (First in 1979)
Best result Winners 1979, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2007

The Argentina national under-20 football team is the representative of Argentina in FIFA sponsored tournaments that pertain to that age level.

Argentina is the most successful nation in the FIFA World Youth Championship, winning the competition a record six times. The team has participated in twelve of the 16 World Championship events, since the 1979 edition, which they won. Argentina has also won four South American Youth Championships.

Many of Argentina's top players came through the ranks of the youth teams, including Leonardo Biagini, Diego Simeone and Carlos Tévez among others.


  • History 1
    • 1979 Youth championship 1.1
    • 1981-91: The dark decade 1.2
    • Pekerman era: the golden years 1.3
    • The success continues 1.4
  • Honours 2
  • Competitive record 3
    • FIFA World Youth Championship Record 3.1
  • Individual awards 4
  • Current squad 5
  • Former squads 6
  • See also 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • References 9


1979 Youth championship

Argentina did not participate of the first youth championship held in Tunisia. The first appearance of a national team in an under-20 competition was 2 years later at the 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship in Tokyo. The team, coached by Menotti with the help of Ernesto Duchini (who had previously chosen the players and working with them),[1] won the tournament showing a fine style of playing consisting in high possession of the ball, short and long passes, dribblings, a solid defense and a powerful offensive line that scored a total of 20 goals along the tournament. Diego Maradona (playing at his highest level) and Ramón Díaz (as an implacable striker, also the topscorer) were the leaders and most notable players of the squad. The tournament was also the first official championship played by Maradona in a national team. After his frustration of 1978, Maradona made one of his most performances along the tournament, being the playmaker of the team due to his passing moves, dribblings to rivals, his accuracy to shot free kicks and the 6 goals he scored.

Before every match, Diego played with the ball, putting it on his neck or his shoulders while the Japanese people couldn't stop applauding him. When I would see this, I would say to myself: "Wow, and the show hasn't even started yet".Osvaldo Rinaldi about Maradona [1]

Argentina debuted in Group B thrashing Indonesia 5-0 in the first match, then beat Yugoslavia by 1-0 and achieved another large victory over Poland 4-1. The youth squad finished 1st in the group with 10 goals scored and only 1 received. The reach the final Argentina hammered Algeria (5-0), then defeated arch-rival Uruguay 2-0. Argentina won the final match against the Soviet Union on September 7, winning 3-1 and therefore proclaiming World Youth Champion for the first time. Ramón Díaz won the Golden Shoe as the topscorer (8 goals) and Maradona was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament.[2]

Apart from Maradona and Díaz, other notable players of the team were Juan Simón, Hugo Alves, Gabriel Calderón, Juan Barbas and Osvaldo Escudero. That team is still regarded as one of the best Argentine national squads ever.[3]

1981-91: The dark decade

Argentina attended the next tournament, hosted by Australia in 1981. The squad was defeated by the local host (2-1), then achieving a draw with England (1-1) and beating Cameroon 2-1. Argentina did not qualify to the next stage totalizing only 3 points in 3 matches played.

The national team made a much better performance at the 1983 championship hosted by Mexico, reaching the final with Brazil. On the first round, Argentina thrashed China 5-0, then widely defeated Austria (3-0) and beat Czechoslovakia in the last game by 2-0. The team finished 1st. in the group with no goals received. In quarter-finals, Argentina hardly defeated Netherlands by 2-1 (after Van Basten had opened the scored for the "Oranges") and Poland by 1-0 in the semi-finals. On June 19, 1983, Argentina played the final against Brazil, being defeated by 1-0 at the Estadio Azteca.[4] The team was coached by Carlos Pachamé, designated by the Senior team coach, Carlos Bilardo, to work with youth players.

Some of the players of that team were goalkeeper Oscar Dertycia.[5]

Argentina did not qualify to play the 1985 and 1987 championships (played in the Soviet Union and Chile respectively) but the team went to the tournament held in Saudi Arabia as one of the three qualified in the South American championship. Argentina was defeated by Spain in the first match. The team recovered winning the second game to Norway 2-0 but although it lost the last match to Iraq, Argentina qualified for the second round. In knockout stage the national team was beaten by Brazil by 1-0 and therefore eliminated from the championship.

For the 1991 championship held in Portugal, Argentina was coached by Reinaldo Merlo, designated by then Senior coach Alfio Basile as it had been in the precedent era.

Argentina made its worst campaign in Youth tournaments, finishing last in the group with only 1 point in 3 matches. The team lost to Korea 1-0 in the debut being then widely defeated by the local team Portugal 3-0, in a match where 3 Argentine players (Claudio París, Mauricio Pellegrino and Juan Esnaider) were sent off by their rough playing, which ended in a great riot on the field between players of both teams. As a result, the International Federation (FIFA) punished the Argentine Association with 2 years of suspension, 1 year for Esnaider and 2 years for Norberto Recassens (one of the representatives of the Argentine Association) who insulted the referees in their dressing room at the end of the match.[6]

Some of the players that took part of that team were goalkeeper Leonardo Díaz, defenders Diego Cocca, Mauricio Pochettino and Pellegrino; midfielders París, Walter Paz Hugo Morales and Christian Bassedas; and forwards Marcelo Delgado and Esnaider.[7]

Pekerman era: the golden years

Argentina did not play the 1993 World Cup of Australia because it was banned. The Football Association had decided to name a new coach who was completely independent from the Senior team coach as had been until then. The chosen one was José Pekerman, who did not have much previous experience but his project convinced the managers to hire him.

The good results were immediate: Argentina won the first World Cup contested with Pekerman as coach, held in 1995 in Qatar. On the first stage, Argentina defeated Netherlands 1-0, then lost to Portugal by the same score and beat Honduras 4-2, finishing second and qualifying for the quarterfinals, were thrashed Cameroon by 4-0. In semifinals Argentina surpassed Spain (3-0) and then beat Brazil 2-0 at the final, taking revenge from the 1983 tournament where the Brazilian had been the winners.

Some of its most notable players were Juan Pablo Sorín, Joaquín Irigoytía, Federico Dominguez, Mariano Juan, Ariel Ibagaza, Leonardo Biagini and Walter Coyette.[8]

Argentina won its third title in the 1997 championship hosted by Malaysia. The team defeated Hungary 3-0 and Canada 2-1 but lost to Australia by 4-3. Argentina passed to the round of 16 where the team defeated England 2-1. In quarter finals Argentina eliminated Brazil after winning 2-0, then beat Republic of Ireland by 1-0 at semifinals. In the final game, played on July 5, 1997, the youth national squad defeated Uruguay 2-1 and therefore won the 3rd. championship for Argentina. The team also received the FIFA fair play award in recognition to the good behaviour showed on the field, leaving behind the violent incident that had took place in Portugal in 1991.

Argentina showed the talent of notable players such as Leonardo Franco, Fabián Cubero, Leandro Cufré, Walter Samuel, Diego Placente, Esteban Cambiasso, Pablo Aimar, Román Riquelme and Bernardo Romeo, many of them with many games played in Argentine Primera División when the tournament began.[9]

The performance during the 1999 World Championship in Nigeria was not so good. Argentina finished 3rd of 4 in the group, winning over Kazakhstan 1-0 at the debut but with a game lost to Ghana (1-0) and a 0-0 draw with Croatia. On the round of 16, Argentina was largely defeated at the hands Mexico by 4-1 and eliminated from the tournament.

In 2001 Argentina hosted its first Youth Championship. The team won its 4th. title (the 3rd. championship in 7 years). Argentina debuted in the Estadio José Amalfitani (the venue where the team played all its games in Buenos Aires) defeating Finland 1-0. The next game Argentina thrashed Egypt 7-1 (with 3 goals by Javier Saviola), and closed its participation in Group A smashing Jamaica by 5-1. On the knockout round Argentina successively eliminated China (2-1), France (3-1) and Paraguay (5-0), winning the tournament with a convincing 3-0 over Ghana at the final, played on July 8 at Vélez Sársfield.

Argentina won its 4th. youth title unbeaten, scoring 27 goals in 7 matches and receiving only 4. River Plate's forward Javier Saviola was awarded with the Golden Shoe (as the topscorer with 11) and Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament. Likewise Argentina was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Awarfor 2nd. consecutive time. Apart from the multi-awarded Saviola, the national squad had a powerful team with most of its players being experienced playing at the domestic first division. Some of the most notable were Nicolas Burdisso, Leonardo Ponzio, Julio Arca, Leandro Romagnoli, Mauro Rosales, Andrés D'Alessandro and Maxi Rodríguez.[10][11]

The 2001 championship was the last title won with Pekerman as coach, closing a brilliant era that brought back the prestige to Argentine football.

The success continues

After the departure of Pekerman, former goalkeeper Hugo Tocalli was designed to replace him. With Tocalli as coach, Argentina made its debut at 2003 championship defeating Spain by 2-1. The team also beat Uzbekistan (by the same score) and Mali (3-1). Argentina finished 1st and unbeaten the first stage. On the round of 16 the national squad beat Egypt 2-1, then defeated United States 2-1 but Argentina lost to Brazil 1-0 at the semifinals. The team was also defeated by Colombia in the 3rd place match so Argentina finished in the 4th position of the general table. Forward Fernando Cavenaghi was the topscorer of the tournament with 4 goals.

In 2004 Pekerman was appointed to coach the Senior team which would play the qualifiers to World Cup.[12] One year later Tocalli left the youth team to join Pekerman's coaching staff at the Senior team, so Francisco Ferraro was designated coach,[13] won its fifth title at the World championship hosted by Netherlands. Argentina lost to United States at the inaugural match, but the team recovered winning the games against Egypt (2-1) and Germany (1-0) qualifying for the next stage. From the round of 16 to the semifinals, Argentina successively eliminated Colombia (2-1), Spain (3-1), and Brazil (2-1) reaching the finals for the 6th. time. On July 2, 2005, Argentina defeated Nigeria by 2-1 and obtained its fifth Youth championship.

Other notable players for Argentina were goalkeeper Oscar Ustari, defenders Ezequiel Garay and Julio Barroso, midfielders Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando Gago and Lucas Biglia; and forwards Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero and Nery Cardozo.

Two years later the national team won its 2nd. consecutive title in the World Cup hosted by Canada. After a 0-0 draw in the debut with Czech Republic, Argentina smashed Panama 6-0 and defeated Korea 1-0 to secure qualification to 2nd. round. On knockout stage, Argentina first eliminated Poland (which defeated 3-1), then faced Mexico (1-0 win) and widely beat Chile 3-0 during the road to the final. On July 22, 2007, Argentina Youth won its 6th. title after defeating Czech Republic 3-1. Sergio Agüero, the topscorer of the championship with 6 goals, was also awarded the Gold Ball as the best player.

Other notable players for the youth national squad were goalkeeper Sergio Romero, midfielders Ever Banega, Maximiliano Moralez and Ángel Di María, and forwards Mauro Zárate and Pablo Piatti.


1979, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2007
1967, 1997, 1999, 2003

Competitive record

FIFA World Youth Championship Record

Year Round GP W D* L GS GA
1977 Did not qualify - - - - - -
1979 Champions 6 6 0 0 20 2
1981 First round 3 1 1 1 3 3
1983 Runners-up 6 5 0 1 13 2
1985 Did not qualify - - - - - -
1987 Did not qualify - - - - - -
1989 Quarter-finals 4 1 0 3 3 4
1991 First round 3 0 1 2 2 6
1993 Disqualified - - - - - -
1995 Champions 6 5 0 1 12 3
1997 Champions 7 6 0 1 15 7
1999 Second round 4 1 1 2 2 5
2001 Champions 7 7 0 0 27 4
2003 Semi-finals 7 5 0 2 12 8
2005 Champions 7 6 0 1 12 5
2007 Champions 7 6 1 0 16 2
2009 Did not qualify - - - - - -
2011 Quarter-finals 5 3 2 0 6 1
2013 Did not qualify - - - - - -
2015 TBD - - - - - -
Total 13/19 72 52 6 14 143 52

Individual awards

In addition to team victories, Argentine players have won many individual awards at FIFA World Youth Cups.

Year Golden Ball Golden Boot
1979 Diego Maradona Ramón Díaz
2001 Javier Saviola Javier Saviola
2005 Lionel Messi Lionel Messi
2007 Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero

Current squad

Coach: Humberto Grondona
0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Walter Benítez (1993-01-19)January 19, 1993 (aged 20) Quilmes
2 2DF Lisandro Magallán (Captain) (1993-09-27)September 27, 1993 (aged 19) Boca Juniors
3 2DF Carlos Ruiz (1993-12-19)December 19, 1993 (aged 19) River Plate
4 2DF Alan Aguirre (1993-08-13)August 13, 1993 (aged 20) Douglas Haig
5 3MF Matías Kranevitter (1993-05-21)May 21, 1993 (aged 20) River Plate
6 2DF Jonathan Valle (1993-01-26)January 26, 1993 (aged 20) Newell's Old Boys
7 4FW Juan Manuel Iturbe (1993-06-04)June 04, 1993 (aged 20) Roma
8 3MF Lucas Romero (1994-04-18)April 18, 1994 (aged 19) Vélez Sársfield
9 4FW Luciano Vietto (1993-12-05)December 05, 1993 (aged 19) Villarreal
10 3MF Alan Ruiz (1993-08-19)August 19, 1993 (aged 20) Grêmio
11 3MF Adrián Centurión (1993-01-19)January 19, 1993 (aged 20) Racing Club
12 1GK Andrés Mehring (1994-04-19)April 19, 1994 (aged 19) Colón
13 2DF Lautaro Gianetti (1993-11-13)November 13, 1993 (aged 19) Vélez Sársfield
14 2DF Lucas Rodríguez (1993-09-27)September 27, 1993 (aged 19) Argentinos Juniors
15 3MF Agustín Allione (1994-11-28)November 28, 1994 (aged 18) Palmeiras
16 3MF Marcos Fernández (1993-04-20)April 20, 1993 (aged 20) Colón
17 3MF Manuel Lanzini (1993-02-15)February 15, 1993 (aged 20) Al Jazira
18 3MF Federico Cartabia (1993-01-20)January 20, 1993 (aged 20) Córdoba
19 3MF Juan Cavallaro (1994-06-28)June 28, 1994 (aged 19) San Lorenzo
20 4FW Lucas Melano (1993-03-01)March 01, 1993 (aged 20) Lanus
21 2DF Eros Medaglia (1994-09-07)September 07, 1994 (aged 19) Atlético Tucumán
22 1GK Juan Musso (1994-05-06)May 06, 1994 (aged 19) Racing Club

Former squads

See also


  • World Youth Cup (U-20) Overview (with links to each tournament) at RSSSF


  1. ^ a b Mundial Juvenil 1979
  2. ^ Argentina Sub-20 1979, El Gráfico
  3. ^ "Japón 1979: Despierta la generación de Maradona" -
  4. ^ "México 1983: Brasil hace valer su condición de favorito" at
  5. ^ Argentina vs. Holanda at Futboltodopasion
  6. ^ "Grandes grescas del fútbol mundial vol XXXII: Portugal – Argentina (1991)", 25 September 2008
  7. ^ Argentina Sub-20 1991, En una Baldosa
  8. ^ "El comienzo del legado de Pekerman en juveniles", Todo Inferiores, 19 October 2012
  9. ^ "Malasia 1997: El cuadrado mágico de Argentina",
  10. ^ "Argentina 2001: La cuarta coronación de la albiceleste" -
  11. ^ "Historias mundialistas: Argentina campeón juvenil 2001", by Agustín Sanna - Suite101, 29 May 2012
  12. ^ Noticias Caracol"¿Quién es José Pekerman?", , 27 December 2011
  13. ^ "Francisco Ferraro es el nuevo técnico del Sub 20", Infobae, 6 January 2005
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