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A look at the UEFA U19 championships and the FIFA U20 World Cup from a Chelsea FC perspective

LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Gael Kakuta of Fulham in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on February 2 2011 in London England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Gael Kakuta of Fulham in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on February 2 2011 in London England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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We've been able to get a look at the Chelsea FC squad quite a bit over the last several weeks in their friendly ties, but several intriguing young names have been noticeably absent since the club set out on it's tour of Asia.  Tomas Kalas has been away on duty with the Czech U19 squad at the UEFA championships.  The Czech side have been in rampant form lately, winning their last five fixtures.  Those wins include the Dutch and Israel in the elite round of qualifying, followed by a perfect 9 point group stage that saw them best Romania, Ireland, and Greece.  

Including all rounds of qualifying, the Czechs have allowed only 4 goals on the tournament.  That is the best total of any team left in the tournament.  Kalas has started every contest so far on the right side of the central defensive pairing.  He has been exceptional in his defensive work, and has also been a real threat from set pieces.  The Czechs are set to square off against Serbia in the semi-finals of the UEFA championships tomorrow, and all indications are that Kalas will start again.  The winner of that will face the winner of the Spain/Ireland semi-final on August 1st.  For those of you interested in watching, that game will kick off at 11:45 AM eastern standard time, and will be followed by the Spain/Ireland game.

The star of the UEFA U19 tournament last summer was undoubtedly Gael Kakuta, as he was named player of the tournament for the victorious French side.  As defending champions, that squad has qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup which begins tomorrow.  Kakuta will likely start every contest for the French unless they have nothing to play for in the final group stage game.  If you are interested in watching the young attacker, the French games will be played at the following times:

7/30/11 (9 PM EST) - France vs Colombia

8/2/11 (6 PM EST) - France vs South Korea

8/5/11 (9 PM EST) - France vs Mali

England also qualified for the tournament, and we have one member of the squad that will be representing the country at the tournament.  Left back Ben Gordon will be traveling with the team, but it's hard to say exactly how many minutes he'll see with the squad.  England have chosen to take three left backs with them, so how they are rotated will be interesting to watch.  It's also worth noting that England have probably been drawn into this tournaments version of a group of death.  The England schedule for the group stage looks like this:

7/29/11 (3:30 PM EST) - England vs North Korea

8/1/11 (9 PM EST) - England vs Argentina

8/4/11 ( 6 PM EST) - England vs Mexico

Oriol Romeu is not yet officially a Chelsea player, and as he is away in Colombia I wouldn't expect the deal to be announced until he returns from the tournament.  For those interested in watching, however, the Spanish national team is a strong favorite in this competition.  As runners up in Europe last summer, the Spanish are expected to go deep into this competition.  I'd expect to see a very heavy dose of Romeu if you tune into their games.  Their schedule is as follows:

7/31/11 (4 PM EST) - Spain vs Costa Rica

8/3/11 (6 PM EST) - Spain vs Ecuador

8/6/11 (6 PM EST) - Spain vs Australia

If you just can't get enough of watching Chelsea's young players in action, that gives you at least 1 game to watch every day for the next week and a half.  At least it will provide something beyond endless transfer speculation.  Enjoy, and we'll have an update for you at the end of the group phase.