Monday 12 June 2017, 16:26

The experts, in conversation

  • Marco van Basten interviews Pablo Aimar on the U-20 World Cup

  • Former Argentina international talks about Korea Republic 2017’s potential stars

  • The 1997 title-winner reflects on his nation’s showing

While there has been plenty of talent on the field during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017, watching on from the stands there has been some high proponents of the game, too.

To get a taste of the tournament through the eyes of those who know the game best, sat in on a chat, ahead of the final, led by FIFA Chief Officer for Technical Development Marco van Basten with FIFA Legend Pablo Aimar.

Joining them were former Switzerland and Netherlands internationals Jean-Paul Brigger and Wim Koevermans. Both part of FIFA’s Technical Study Group, the TSG have been analysing the finer points of the game since 1966 FIFA World Cup England™ and the pair have been part of the team turning their expert eye to the action in Korea Republic.

Marco van Basten: Pablo, you have seen the tournament, how do you assess what you have seen and what do you think about the level here? **Pablo Aimar:** I think the standard has been good. The best teams reached the semi-finals in my opinion and any of four of them could have played the final. The final we’ve got, though, is a really good one.

Van Basten: You won the U-20 World Cup at Malaysia 1997. What did you see from the Argentina team this edition? **Aimar:** I don’t think they played badly. They couldn’t take the chances they created but they didn’t play badly.

Van Basten: Did you see a new Aimar, Lionel Messi, or Diego Maradona? **Aimar:** Or a new Van Basten?

Van Basten: That’s impossible! Aimar: A new Messi is impossible. A new Maradona is impossible. A new Van Basten is impossible. A new Aimar? That’s possible .

Van Basten: In terms of the tournament, did you see any players among other teams who are looking promising for the future? **Aimar:** Yes, there’s a lot of them. Solanke, Orsolini, Valverde, Sakala, Penaranda, Diogo Goncalvez, Xadas. There are a lot of players, even the Argentinians. What I don’t know is how good they’re going to end up being, but there are a lot of them for sure. Valverde might make it to Russia 2018.

Van Basten: What is the big difference between the U-20s and the senior FIFA World Cup? **Aimar:** The interest among the fans and the pace of the game. The pace is faster at senior level. There’s more intensity.

Van Basten: And technically? Aimar: It's inferior but the technical gap is not as large as the difference in intensity.

Jean-Paul Brigger: We have talked about the video assist­ant referee system a lot, and it’s always good to hear from the best former players on what they think. **Aimar:** I’m in favour of the VAR but sometimes I watch an incident once, twice or three or four times over and I still don’t know how to call it.

Van Basten: I can understand that, but the rules are that you only use the VAR if you have a clear mistake and, if there is any doubt, then the decision is the referee’s. It needs to be clear for everyone before they can intervene. If there’s a discussion, that means it’s not a clear mistake.

Van Basten: Just to finish, as an ambassador of Korea Republic 2017, how do you reflect on the tournament? **Aimar:** I’m just really grateful to everyone who went to the games. Tournaments like this one are very important.

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