FIFA U-17 WC: Brazil faces Spanish challenge

Vinicius Jr's exclusion from his side's World Cup campaign remains the major talking point ahead of Saturday's FIFA U-17 encounter between three-time champion Brazil and three-time runner-up Spain.

Brazil footballers will be hoping to get off to a winning start.   -  H. Vibhu

Vinicius Jr's exclusion from his side's World Cup campaign remains the major talking point ahead of Saturday's FIFA U-17 encounter between three-time champion Brazil and three-time runner-up Spain.

Ahead of the match, Brazil's coach, Carlos Amadeu, is confident of a cracker of a game, despite the absence of Vinicius. “We prepare before matches with videos and statistics. Both teams will want possession of the ball and will play an offensive style of football. It will be a great game for sure,” he said. “We are always trying to win. We know the potential of this team and we know our potential and that's why it will be a great game for sure,” added the 52-year-old.

READ: FIFA U17 WC: Kiwis claw back to deflate Turkey

Brazil made it to the World Cup in a spectacular fashion, going on an undefeated streak to win the South American U-17 Championship, and went on a goal-scoring rampage to thump 24 goals in the process. “The South American Championship is in the past. It was a great win for us but now our focus is the World Cup,” said the determined coach.

Read: 'We can create two more Viniciuses' - Brazil U17 captain

Commenting on Vinicius, he emphasised that every player of the squad was equally important. “Though Vinicius was really important, we have to focus on the players who are here. We changed our players many times during our South American Championship campaign, including in the game against Argentina, which was a very important game for us. So yes, we are confident in all the players.”

Spain looking to erase bridesmaid tag

Spain, on the other hand, arrives with a Euro U-17 Championship win on its back, but it does not enjoy the kind of supremacy that Brazil does. The side scraped through the semifinal against Germany on penalties and in the final, it had to bank on striker Nacho Diaz's injury time equaliser to level the game. It then prevailed in the penalty shoot-out that followed but did not quite seal its ticket to India with any pizazz to speak of.

"We need to improve in every aspect, in attack, midfield and defence,” noted  Spain's coach, Santi Denia. “There is room for improvement for not just the players, but for technical staff and management staff as well. We are working on it. To be world champions, we need to improve on every aspect,” stressed the coach.

When asked if the side faced any pressure, given that it has never lifted the trophy, coach Denia said, “It's no pressure. It is a beautiful challenge for us knowing the fact that Spain has never won the U-17 championship. It will be something beautiful for the (Spanish Football) Federation because we have never won it. The route to winning the World Cup will be a long one but we are here to win it.”

Commenting on the group, the veteran coach labelled Group D, which features Spain, Brazil, Korea DPR and Niger as the most difficult group of the tournament. “I think it is and it is very important to win the first match. Winning and getting three points is very important, knowing the fact that Brazil are favourites to lift the title,” he remarked.

The Spanish-Brazilian clash has all the pre-requisites to be an absolute blockbuster, given the history the two sides share and the number of stars that have emerged from these junior teams, including the likes of Ronaldinho, Xavi, Iniesta and Neymar. 

On Saturday, when some 29,000 football fanatics gather at Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, they would be hoping to see the birth of another star!

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