Where are they now? The Argentina U20s that were crowned South American champions in 2015

In February 2015, a talented crop of Argentinians won the 2015 South American Youth Football Championship in Uruguay.

Led by veteran Argentinian coach Humberto Grondona, they claimed the trophy in style, losing just one of their nine outings, winning four of five in the eventual round-robin final stage.

Approaching a full decade since that youth tournament victory, we figured now would be a good time to look back and take stock of which players fulfilled their promise in the professional game. We’ve taken a look back at the XI that clinched the trophy from the final game of the Under-20 Championship, a 2-1 comeback victory over hosts Uruguay.

GK: Augusto Batalla

Batalla had been named the best goalkeeper in the South American Under-17s Football Championship a couple of years prior and progressed to win a second successive tournament at youth level.

He made his senior debut for River Plate the following year. The rising star won a couple of trophies in his debut season with his boyhood club, albeit on the periphery, and remains on their books eight years later.

But he’s been loaned out no fewer than six times, having failed to nail down a spot between the sticks for River Plate. Still, Batalla was named in the Argentine Primera Division Team of the Season last year while on loan at San Lorenzo and most recently spent half a season in La Liga with relegated strugglers Granada.

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RB: Tiago Casasola

Fulham signed Casasola from Boca Juniors when he was a highly-rated 19-year-old back in 2014.

“He is a great talent and a player who can develop to play at Premier League and Champions League level,” said Felix Magath at the time.

The youngster went on to demonstrate his promise in Argentina’s youth tournament triumph, but Magath’s premonition did not come to fruition. Then again, the former Fulham boss famously once told Brede Hangeland to rub himself with cheese to cure an injury, so we’re not entirely surprised.

Casasola never made an appearance for Fulham. He later joined both Roma and Lazio but never played for them, either. Must’ve had a hell of an agent.

A nomadic career with lots of loans to clubs in the lower reaches of the Italian football pyramid have led Casasola to Ternana, who ply their trade in Serie C.

CB: Emanuel Mammana

The defender came up through River Plate’s academy alongside Batalla, but he left the club in 2016 to sign for Lyon.

Mammana had his moments, earning three caps at senior level for Argentina, but his six-year stay in Europe with Lyon and Zenit Saint Petersburg was not a great success and heavily hampered by an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

He returned to River Plate in 2022 and is currently turning out for Velez Sarsfield. A fourth Argentina cap doesn’t appear forthcoming.

CB: Facundo Monteseirin

Heard of Nueva Chicago? Us neither.

They play in the Primera Nacional, the Argentine second division, and boast Monteseirin among their ranks.

The centre-back never really kicked on to play at the top level, with the South American Youth Championship in 2015 the only trophy on his honours list, but he’s still done enough to earn a respectable living from the game.

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CB: Facundo Cardozo (Rodrigo Moreira, ’45)

After a well-travelled career that’s included stints in Mexico, India, Chile and Azerbaijan, last year Cardoza sensationally signed for Arsenal… de Serandi, who also play in the Argentinian second tier.

Early substitute Moreira has fared a little better, having played a very minor fringe role in Independiente’s Copa Sudamericana trophy win in 2017. Earlier this year he left Argentina to sign for Chilean outfit Deportes Limache.

LB: Nicolas Tripichio

Tripichio was also part of the Under-17s side that had won the South American Football Championship in 2013. While he couldn’t quite step up to play at the very elite level, and remains uncapped by Argentina, he has forged a solid career in Argentinian top-flight football.

The full-back moved from Velez Sarsfield to fellow Buenos Aires side Defensa y Justicia in 2018 and has since made over a hundred appearances for the club.

DM: Leandro Vega (Joaquin Ibanez, ’86)

Nowadays a centre-back by trade, Vega is another River Plate academy graduate and another journeyman of South American football.

He graduated from River’s academy to play a handful of games but he moved on in search of more regular opportunities, spending three years in Ecuador with Emelec, later representing Chilean club Deportes Antofagasta and Uruguayan club Racing Montevideo before returning to Argentina earlier this year with Deportivo Maipu.

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CM: Tomas Martinez

River Plate academy? Check. Loans away? Check. Over five transfers? Check. A well-stamped passport, a return to Buenos Aires, some clubs you’ve never heard of? Check check check.

If you’ve followed MLS, you may remember Martinez from his three-year spell with Houston Dynamo, with whom he made almost a hundred appearances and won a US Open Cup.

Since leaving Houston in 2020, the attacking midfielder has gone from Defensa y Justicia to Argentinian second-tier side Aldosivi to Peruvian side Melgar, where he remains today.

CM: Sebastian Driussi (Cristian Espinoza, ’53)

The Buenos Aires-born midfielder played alongside goalkeeper Batalla in this XI, in River Plate’s academy and senior team and at Zenit Saint Petersburg.

He left Russia in 2021 and has been settled at Austin FC ever since, having established himself as a more-than-decent MLS player.

Driussi might not have lived up to his outrageous Football Manager potential in real life, but he can proud of notching 48 goals and 14 assists in 98 appearances for Austin FC.

Substitute Espinoza is another Stateside success story from this youth team. He’s established himself as a tricky winger with San Jose Earthquakes, where he’s plied his trade since 2020.

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ST: Giovanni Simeone

Cholo’s son scored nine goals in the 2015 Under-20 South American Championship, which made him the top scorer by an absolute street.

Gio ‘El Cholito‘ Simeone was born in Buenos Aires but moved around Europe during father Diego’s playing career, eventually joining River Plate’s academy when his old man was appointed manager in 2008.

Eight years later he arrived in Europe, signing for Genoa, and has had something of a stop-start career in Italy ever since, with a series of loans and moves that’s taken him to Fiorentina, Cagliari, Hellas Verona and eventually Napoli, with whom he won a Scudetto.

He’s played for Argentina on six occasions and was recalled after a five-year absence last year, but isn’t expected to make their Copa America squad.

ST: Angel Correa

While Simeone Junior followed his own path, his old strike partner Correa joined his old man in the Spanish capital.

Atletico Madrid signed the forward from San Lorenzo back in 2015 and he remains at the Metropolitano to this day. Correa’s made over 400 appearances across 10 seasons and while he’s only notched double figures for La Liga goals once, he remains a trusted and useful member of Simeone’s squad.

Despite that decade-long service to Atleti, Correa is somehow not yet 30. He might’ve rarely been a guaranteed starter for club or country, but he’s enjoyed by some distance the best career out of any of the players in this XI, having won a La Liga title, the Europa League, the Copa America and the World Cup.