• The FIFA U-20 World Cup gets underway on 20 May
  • Four former winners will be taking part, with two debutants in the mix
  • It will be the first youth competition to use VAR

The participating countries' flags are flying in the streets, filling the six host cities with colour, alongside the numerous banners and posters publicising the event, as the teams are ready to rumble. The FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 is all set to wow the world courtesy of great games, unforgettable goals, and youngsters who are on the path to stardom.

The action kicks off on Saturday 20 May, with four matches in store: Venezuela-Germany and Vanuatu-Mexico in Group B, and Argentina-England and Korea Republic-Guinea in Group A.

FIFA.com previews the 21st edition of the U-20 World Cup, the champions of which will be crowned on 11 June.

The favourites
Despite being without some big names including Kylian Mbappe, France are obvious contenders on the strength of their victory at the 2016 UEFA European U-19 Championship. Portugal have a habit of making their mark at youth tournaments and look to boast a good blend in their squad, with several experienced heads who can guide their somewhat rawer 17-year-old and 18-year-old talents. Uruguay, meanwhile, impressed with their miserly defence and prolific attack en route to winning the South American U-20 Championship for the first time in 36 years.

The potential dark horses
Hosts Korea Republic will be able to call on not just a gifted, high-energy side, but raucous support from an entire nation. Zambia claimed the African crown in style, their explosiveness in particular catching the eye. USA will be hopeful that their defensive solidity can take them a long way, as was the case in the CONCACAF qualifying competition, while Mexico will fancy their chances of sweeping aside all comers if star attacker Ronaldo Cisneros is on song.

The new faces

Players to watch

  • Jean-Kevin Augustin (France, 19, forward). "He's the perfect understudy to Edinson Cavani [at PSG]. In my book, Augustin is the future." France coach Rolland Courbis
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (USA, 19, defender). "He can be one of the best centre-backs in England." Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino
  • Patson Daka (Zambia, 18, forward). "Players like him are hard to come by. His movement off the ball is perfect and he's lethal in front of goal." FC Salzburg director of football Christoph Freund
  • Exequiel Palacios (Argentina, 18, midfielder). "He's taking his first steps but I believe he's got plenty of potential. He has the physical and technical attributes." River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo
  • Lee Seungwoo (Korea Republic, 19, forward). "He has huge potential and incredible scope for improvement." Barcelona B coach Gerard Lopez
  • Rodrigo Bentancur (Uruguay, 19, midfielder). "I've got no doubt he's going to be a success in Europe. You just have to look at how he carries himself and his ball control." Former Argentina star Juan Roman Riquelme

The new features
Korea Republic 2017 will be the first youth tournament to make use of the video assistant referee (VAR) system, which was previously trialled at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016. Should there be extra-time and penalties, even more new additions will come into play. If all is square after 90 minutes, both sides will get to use a fourth substitution and, if two hours of football cannot separate them, penalties will be taken in a new order. Known to some as the 'ABBA' sequence, after the first team has taken their opening kick, both sides will take back-to-back penalties until they have taken five apiece. Should they be level still, they will continue the order into sudden death.

Did you know?
75 - The number of matches Argentina have played at the tournament, putting them second in the all-time standings. Brazil, who have contested the most games, will not be able to add to their record tally of 103, being absent from this edition. You can find more facts and figures like these in our comprehensive Statistical Kit.